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NPR Interview with Lynne Cheney, Morning Edition, Friday, May 24, 2002.
Photo: White House, David Bohner
In Lynne Cheney's role as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, she emphasizes the importance of American history. In that vein, the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney recently published a book aimed at elementary school children called America: A Patriotic Primer.
Her topic for the National Press Club is "Why history shouldn't be a mystery: the importance of teaching our kids about the American past."
"If there were one aspect of schooling from kindergarten through college to which I would give added emphasis today it would be American history," she has said.
A past editor of Washingtonian magazine, Cheney is the author of several previous books intended for grown-up audiences. As chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1986 to 1993), she published American Memory: A Report on the Humanities in the Nation's Public Schools. The book warned about the failure of schools to transmit knowledge of the past to future generations. Her 1996 book Telling the Truth examines the effect of postmodernism and relativism in academia and politics.
The Sept. 11 attacks have only reinforced her devotion to teaching American history. "At a time of national crisis, I think it is particularly apparent that we need to encourage the study of our past. Our children and grandchildren -- indeed, all of us -- need to know the ideas and ideals on which our nation has been built. We need to understand how fortunate we are to live in freedom. We need to understand that living in liberty is such a precious thing that generations of men and women have been willing to sacrifice everything for it. We need to know, in a war, exactly what is at stake."
Cheney holds a doctorate in 19th-century British Literature at the University of Wisconsin. She earned earlier degrees at the University of Colorado and at Colorado College.
"A system of education that fails to nurture memory of the past denies its students a great deal," Mrs. Cheney wrote in American Memory. "The satisfactions of mature thought, an attachment to abiding concerns, a perspective on human existence."
Lynne V. Cheney's site at the White House Web page.