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On Pearl Harbor Day, take the citizenship test

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Seventy-two years ago today, the Greatest Generation got a wake-up call from Hawaii and proved what citizenship is all about, though today’s Chicago Tribune suggests far too many people no longer realize the significance of "a date which shall live in infamy."

Only one time did my dad ever speak of Dec. 7, 1941. He said that when the news came over the radio, “I couldn’t get my hands on a gun fast enough.” Millions of like-minded members of The Greatest Generation reacted the same way, and from that moment forward the Third Reich and Empire of the Sun were living on borrowed time.

Scary as it seems – and the proof can be found with Fox News’ “Watters World” interview segments on the “O’Reilly Factor” and even comedian Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” moron-on-the-street interviews — far too many Americans (that’s “too” as in plus, not “to” as in going somewhere) today cannot identify a photo of the vice president or Speaker of the House, and some can’t tell “too” from “to” when they write stuff on the internet. How many of you immediately identified the image appearing with today’s Examiner?

Earlier this week, the educated folks on the 1911TechTalk chat list picked up on a July “citizenship quiz” that appeared in The Atlantic magazine and challenged one another to see if they actually would qualify as citizens.

You know who we’re talking about; people wise enough to not blindly vote for someone just because there’s a “D” or “R” next to their name. It is often said that Charles Manson could be elected mayor of Seattle if he ran as a Democrat, and most likely so would Charles J. Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz.

Who? That’s the answer you’d probably get from the average person who considers himself a citizen, especially in Pioneer Square or Westlake Plaza. They were the fellows who, respectively, shot down James A. Garfield and William McKinley. Who? They were presidents of the United States, both Republicans. When it comes to assassinated presidents, Republicans lead, with Abraham Lincoln, while John F. Kennedy is the only Democrat to have been murdered in office.

But in Seattle, of course, far too many people think it's more stylish being stoned in public than knowing a bit about history.

The citizenship test may be challenging for some, a walk in the park for others. Here’s how the scoring breaks down:

0-19: Citizenship denied
20-29: Probationary citizenship (must retake test in one year)
30-49: Citizenship attained

As we enjoy our citizenship today because Mein Kampf isn’t mandatory reading in high school and we pledge allegiance to the Stars and Stripes rather than a rising sun, remember what happened 72 years ago today. As legendary firearms authority Jeff Cooper said in one of his books, quoting L.P. Hartley, “The past is another country. They do things differently there.”

This is the present. Let’s see how you do on the citizenship test, and feel free to brag about your score in the space below.

If you flunk, do not despair because there is a consolation prize: If you like your current health insurance plan, you can keep it.

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