Every parent wants to raise well rounded kids who love their country, understand their freedoms and feel comfortable taking a stand for what is right and true. Do your kids understand what it means to live free in America? Do they know about our country’s patriotic past and present sacrifices that are made daily for all of us to keep our freedoms?
In 1892, Francis Bellamy wrote what we know today as the “Pledge of Allegiance”. Today it reads:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
During the 1950’s, a ‘Flag Code’ was established to show respect for our nation’s flag. The code asked for persons to stand facing the flag with their right hand over their heart, to remove any head wear and to remain silent in reverence of everything our flag stands for and the sacrifices of our military. So what does the American flag stand for today? What does it mean to you?
I think the answer to this question would be different depending on who you ask. When I was growing up, the American flag held great power and honor in schools, churches, courtyards and was proudly raised on poles in many front yards. My kids grew up in a small town and every morning in their classrooms they would recite the Pledge of Allegiance with pride and before class started someone from the school leadership would lead a prayer. Unless your child goes to a private Christian school, these days are over. Next time you attend a large sporting event, watch the flag code behavior of the crowd during the color guard ceremony. Hats stay on heads and you will notice that many people are anything but reverent during the ceremony.
I believe that families today demonstrate less and less understanding of what it means to say, “Let freedom ring!” What has caused Americans to lose their patriotism? It is clear that democracy in our society can’t survive without a self–disciplined population and preserving our democratic way of life requires that we teach our children and grandchildren the true meaning of patriotism, thus empowering them to stand up for the freedoms that make our country strong.
Here is my Sweet Southern Advice on how to be a patriotic parent:
Educate your kids in America 101.
Learning how to be patriotic doesn’t have to be boring, however it does have to be taught. It should be fun and become a tradition within your family. Make it comfortable in your home to be proud of America, its heritage and freedoms. Make this topic a summer project for your kids to explore.
Teach your kids the meaning of self-discipline.
Education is key when kids are learning to make decisions for themselves. I have always told our kids that you must stand up for your freedoms and the issues in which you believe. If your kids learn self-discipline early, their thoughts and opinions become their own and carry much weight later when it comes to defending their rights as Americans.
Respect the flag.
The American flag was designed in 1777 to represent the unity and strength of the country. Unfortunately, our flag has lost its symbolism over the years. The colors in the flag; white, Old Glory Red and Old Glory Blue carry significance. The stars and stripes have earned their space on the cloth. It always saddens me to see an American flag wadded up on a bottom shelf in a flea market or junk store. Our military soldiers wear this flag on their arms to show dedication to their country…America. And it drapes the casket of those who sacrifice their lives when they are flown home. Teach your children to respect the flag.
Encourage patriotic leadership.
Children learn by example. They watch our actions, reactions and responses as we go through life. Embrace teaching moments about our country’s heritage, show appreciation by thanking an American soldier when you see them in uniform, and present your kids with opportunities to show leadership within your family and among their friends. You never know, you might be raising a soldier…we did.
Celebrate America more than just twice a year.
In times where it’s tough to watch the news, it’s important that we be thankful daily for our freedoms. We are about to celebrate Memorial Day as a nation. The retail stores will run great sales, the car dealerships will serve free hot dogs and families everywhere will fire up the grill for a barbecue. The July 4th holiday is just around the corner, so we get to do it all again and add some fireworks. Make these holidays about more than just food and fireworks. Teach your kids that these special days are really about honoring the sacrifices that have been made to allow us to live free in the United States of America.
Hug a soldier this weekend! I hug mine every chance I get!
Have a wonderful Memorial Day and God Bless America.