It was Sunday morning, the day the before the Fourth of July. I had just finished speaking with the music director at church before the start of the meeting, in which she had informed me that we would be singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” as our opening song.
When our conversation ended, I gathered my girls close by me and explained that we would be singing our national anthem and that they needed to stand up and place their hands over their hearts for the duration of the song. They executed the directions flawlessly (well, except for my three year old), but they had questions about why we acted that way during that particular song. I tried to explain the concept of patriotism; but, based upon their repeated questioning, didn’t think that my explanations were really making sense.
What is patriotism? Why is it important? Why should we be patriotic?
These questions weighed on my mind for many days afterwards. Should I be devoting some effort to teaching patriotism to my children? I’d always been aware of other homeschooling families who placed a heavy emphasis on raising good citizens and learning to respect the flag, but I usually pushed aside the curiosity about why they chose to work hard on that particular area because I’ve got a whole lot of other stuff on my mind in regards to our school day!
As part of this recent pondering on citizenship, I’ve felt the desire to be an example of patriotism to my own children. There is so much good in this country of ours and I want them to take pride in being its citizens. I want the spirit of patriotism that I see in families who actively teach loyalty to country to their children. I want “patriotism” to be more than shooting off fireworks and wearing the colors of the flag.
I am hoping for a fidelity to our country and a strong concern for our government. I want to raise leaders who will be not only well-equipped academically, but well-equipped devotionally to make a difference in their communities. I want them to care deeply about what happens in their town, in their state and in their country overall. A country doesn’t progress in very positive directions when its citizens develop an apathy in regards to their government.
All the warm and fuzzies aside, I am not aiming to develop hyper-patriotic citizens who feel compelled to
scream at inform foreign citizens that our country is far superior to all other countries in the world. I’ve seen examples of this many times and I think it’s incredibly rude. I’ve lived in another country and still think that country is quite nice and boasts many qualities that I find more admirable than what is offered by my current country. I do not believe that any one country is completely better than another country. Each has its own positive and negative aspects, and I think a person should seek to live in a country to which s/he feels the most connection and loyalty.
People need roots. One cannot grow to their full potential if their root system is weak. Our family is building up a spiritual foundation every day, but I feel that a rooting in Nationalism is advantageous as well. Without a national rooting, one could end up a wandering traveler—which sounds very exciting, but doesn’t accomplish a whole lot in the realm of “the greater good.”
How do I build that foundation? Can it be accomplished by singing the national anthem and pledging allegiance to the flag each morning? How do I inspire my children to patriotism?
There are lots of books on the subject, but I think that patriotism is one subject for which a person wouldn’t need a book in order to understand the subject more fully. I mean, surely I can help my children develop a love for our country without consulting an instruction manual! I decided to sit down for a patriotic brainstorming session and come up with as many ways as I could think of to foster patriotism in our home.
The outcome of my brainstorming session:
- Learning the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance are a step in a positive direction.
- Display a flag in our schoolroom and outside our home, especially on patriotic holidays.
- Make an energetic effort to participate in the various activities offered by our community in relation to patriotic holidays.
- Read stories with emphasis on citizenship and loyalty to country, especially true accounts of patriots of our country. (Both as read-loud selections for the family, and as choices for my personal reading time.)
- Participate in groups that promote citizenship, like Scouts, 4-H, government & leadership groups, etc.
- Allow enthusiastic participation from my children in planning patriotic celebrations. (My girls love to throw parties!)
- Participate as I am able in local government. I don’t have a lot of time for this right now, but I can definitely take a few evenings to attend our local caucus meetings as they occur.
- Be sure to vote in local and national elections. Talk about it with my children.
- Give service to the men and women who serve our country in the military and the government.
- Plan some future family vacations to take us to National points of interest.
I think it’s a good list for young children. As they grow up, I’ll add more ideas to the list that speaks to their developing maturity.
I’m aware that my recent
obsession preoccupation with patriotic training seems like the result of an overly-anxious mind; but the more I thought about patriotism, the more I started to feel that patriotism is an exercise in loyalty. Loyalty is a quality I very much desire for my children. Any extra practice in this area is a big bonus! One must be loyal to themselves, their faith, their families, their spouse and their friends. To fall short in any of these areas can lead to some very detrimental consequences. Placing an emphasis on loyalty to country will strengthen my children’s ability to be loyal to the other very important aspects of their lives.
I’m always interested in hearing what others are doing in their homes to further the cause of good ideas and practices. Do you do anything specific to foster patriotism in your home? Please share your ideas!
Cara is the Queen of Brooketopia, which boasts three princesses, one prince and a very mellow King. You can read more about the royal family’s adventures on her blog, Brooketopia.