Nearly one-third of Americans are unaware of the significance and purpose of Memorial Day in the latest TIPP Poll completed on Friday. The poll also painted a bleak picture of young Americans' lack of knowledge about huge sacrifices made by the country's brave men and women. The purpose of Memorial Day is unknown to 46 percent of the 18-25 age group, a sobering statistic that is consistent with the military's recruiting difficulties.
The TIPP Poll asked Americans the purpose of Memorial Day: Who or what does Memorial Day honor?
We provided ten choices and asked respondents to pick one. 32% answered incorrectly, and 68% answered correctly. The chart below presents the details.
The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their country. As it happens, it is not a holiday to mark the beginning of summer. Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971 and is now observed annually on the last Monday in May.
Behind The Numbers
Here are the groups with a large share of people unaware of Memorial Day's purpose.
- 46% among the age group 18 to 24
- 49% of the age group 25 to 44
- 40% among Urbanites
- 42% of Blacks
- 55% of Hispanics
- 40% of Democrats
- 41% of households with incomes of $75K+
The poll raises questions regarding the effectiveness of the curriculum used in our high school education.
The data has broader implications as well.
The United States has a voluntary military. The lack of knowledge among young people about the purpose of Memorial Day is a proxy indicator of the difficulty the military is facing in recruiting young people.
A few generations ago, Americans held military service in the highest regard. Inspired young people joined the armed forces to serve their country. Despite being a voluntary force, it was the envy of the world.
According to the USO website, "181,510 Americans enlisted in the ranks of active duty service, and 72,908 joined the enlisted reserves in the year following Sept. 11." We have been fortunate that our country has not been directly attacked since. The sense of security and a lack of perception of threat is probably why our youngsters do not feel compelled to enlist in the armed forces. Add to that a slew of other issues that make it challenging for the military to recruit people.
According to Pentagon data, nearly 71% of those aged 17 to 24 — roughly 24 million out of 34 million people — are ineligible to join the military due to "obesity, a lack of a high school diploma, or a criminal record."
The reality is, the United States is at the center of a pentagon of challenges, including Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and others. We must seriously reexamine the history curriculum that our schools use to teach young Americans. We must also educate our youth on the role America plays on the world stage. Too much to ask?
About The Survey
TechnoMetrica conducted the TIPP Poll from May 26 to May 28. The nationwide online study had a sample of 1,305 Americans, 18 or older. TechnoMetrica's network of panel partners provided the study sample. Upon the study completion, TechnoMetrica weighted the study dataset by gender, age, race, education, and geography to mirror known benchmarks such as the U.S. Census. The credibility interval (CI) for the survey is +/-2.8 percentage points, meaning the study is accurate to within ± 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Americans been surveyed.
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