Happy 236th birthday, America!
We live off Main Street, USA in a quaint New England town filled with proud historical markers. Two streets to our right our founding father, George Washington, hitched his horse in front of my daughter's home. Down the hill the birthplace of Lyman Hall, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, still stands proud. Flags fly from country porches, line the center of town and wave their red, white and blue at passers-by from Memorial Day through September.
My preschool grandchildren frequently walk these flag-lined streets and can already identify the American flag from all the others. It makes this grandma's heart proud! I'm sure their natural curiosity influenced conversations with their parent's about the flag, but I'm glad to know they're already learning to identify the symbol of this great country.
I remember when my son was in second-grade, I asked if his class recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. He hesitated, wondering if he should tell the truth. "Well, the principal says it every morning over the loud speaker, but our teacher doesn't make us say it with him every day." My heart sank and my mind raced wondering how to respond, how to instill the importance of this symbolic act in an eigth-year-old. So, I simply asked him to pay attention to the words the principal was saying and to recite the pledge in his heart every morning, even when his teacher didn't lead the class.
How exactly do we instill patriotism, the love of country in our children especiallly if they attend public schools? Live it. Just as we live out our faith at home, we should also live out our love of country.
Here's a few ideas:
- Display an American flag on your home for significant patriotic holidays (Flag Day, D-Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Veteran's Day) explaining the origination of the flag during the Revolutionary War and the symbolism behind the colors and stars. For preschoolers, simply stating it represents our country and the stars stand for our states - where we live.
- Salute the flag as it passes during a parade. Teach your sons to remove their hats and place them over their heart and daughters to place their right hand over their heart as well.
- Pray for our nation's leaders as a family.
- Vote at every election and take your children into the voting booth, explaining the importance and great privilege it is to choose our own leaders.
- Practice simplified democracy in appropriate ways, like voting on which movie the family will watch or which snack they'd like to eat.
- Make a patriotic dessert for these special holidays. I've seen confetti cake mixes with red/white/blue sprinkles in the mix and star sprinkles to go atop the icing. Easy-peasy.
- Talk about the WHY of the day when they're off from school or on the way to the fireworks, etc.
Happy 4th of July,