Wolfe, Ethyle, National Humanities Medal, 1990
Importance of recognizing the crucial relationship between the past and the future, and of the critical role of memory and hope in guiding the present
"As an educator and a classicist who has devoted the last fifty years of
my life to the advancement of the liberal arts and humanities in the higher education institutions of America and in public discourse across the nation, the importance of recognizing the crucial relationship between the past and the future and of the critical role of memory and hope in guiding the present would be my message to America at the end of the twentieth century...my life-long professional study and teaching of the Classics has convinced me that exposure to the ancient Greek and Roman authors who shaped the education and ideals of the founding fathers must be kept alive in our schools, as they have been for the past 2500 years. It is essential that the richly diverse citizens of the future, native and naturalized, know the primary source and roots of our society's intellectual values, art forms, literary genres, social institutions, forms of government, and the ethical and educational concepts of our intellectual ancestors of the classical world, from whom America derived its ideal of freedom.
"Our history demonstrates that formal schooling in our democratic
society has always furnished the unifying counterweight to balance and
bridge the cherished differences to be found in a multicultural population
like ours...The most hopeful and noblest phenomenon represented by America
at the end of the twentieth century is the manifestation of a united goal and committed desire to restore a high quality education for all."