Lessons I Want My Children to Learn: Patriotism

Do you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day? Other than one is in May and one is in November, I mean. 🙂

When I was teaching high school history, I always made it a point to teach the origins behind these important days.

Memorial Day, as the name suggests, is the US national holiday in which we remember and honor those who have fallen in service to our great nation.

It began during the Civil War as Decoration Day, when women would decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers and other mementos. As the years went on and the US was involved in more wars, the holiday adapted and in the late 1960’s, was officially assigned to the last Monday in May when the nation would remember all service members who had died in any war in our nation’s history.

Veteran’s Day, as the name suggests, honors all active and retired veterans of all wars in our history. This date came about from Armistice Day of WWI, (November 11, 1918, 11 am) when an armistice (cease-fire) was declared, eventually leading to the end of the war in 1919.

As time goes on, it seems that the reasons behind Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veteran’s Day have become somewhat mashed together and given Americans a reason to have a day off of work and a cookout.

I’m okay with that. I love cookouts. I love the American tradition of hotdogs and hamburgers by the pool. It’s fun. It’s America.

I’m even mostly okay with the confusion between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, because both honor those who have served.

I am not okay with the general public not knowing the history behind our Independence Day celebrations of July 4th. You might be surprised how many people do not have a basic understanding of this momentous day. Yeah, it’s actually different from the other two, but I’ll save that history for another post.

One of the lessons I want to instill into my children is patriotism.

I don’t believe enough people in America actually appreciate America anymore. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our understanding of exactly what it means to be free. We’ve lost our sense of duty–we’ve lost our sense of honor.

There was a time when young men stood up, eager to serve. Most of the teens I taught were petrified of serving in the military– the idea was laughable.

Several times I had to combat the idea that serving in the military was only for “stupid” people who couldn’t get into college.

“Do stupid people win wars?” I’d ask.

As a military brat, I have to admit, it was difficult for me to keep my cool in the classroom when this subject came up–more often than I’d like to acknowledge. (I’d like to believe people are smarter than to think the military is only for “dummies”, but alas, many are not.)

I was raised in a military home, with a tradition of military service and the idea that serving our nation was honorable, desirable, and respected.

Although my husband is not military, I want my children to grow up with this same belief.

My husband actually teaches middle school, which is another position to be greatly respected. 🙂 He definitely serves his nation, folks.

My son’s great-grandfathers served in WWII. Their grandfather (my dad) served in Desert Storm. Their uncle (my brother) is currently serving his country.

The idea that standing up for the values that America was built on, what our forefathers believed in when they drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is something to be admired.

While politics seem to continue to make a mess of the values that bore this nation, I want my sons to have an understanding of where we’ve come from, our history, our traditions, and what it really means to be an American.

I want them to believe that America is great. I want them to know it. I want them to be proud of all those who came before us, establishing this great nation. I want them to be proud to be an American.

So yes, we will be cooking out hamburgers this Memorial Day.

But we’ll also be talking about what it means to serve our country. We’ll talk about military service, an option that will be their choice someday, and we will talk about how even at their young ages, we can pray for our leaders, pray for our nation, and pray for those who have served, are serving, and for the families who love them.

Share with me: What’s your favorite thing about being an American?


Filed under Family, Parenting, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Lessons I Want My Children to Learn: Patriotism

  1. Gabrielle Meyer

    Your words are beautiful and full of conviction. I remember entering high school (after being homeschooled for six years) and walking into a required government class. The first thing the teacher said was: “Basically, our government sucks” – and I’m not kidding. At the end of that class period I went to the office and dropped the class (I had already completed the required credits at home, but wanted another opportunity to learn about our government). Later, when one of the other students asked me why I dropped it, I told him I was appalled at the teacher’s attitude. The boy said to me very condescendingly “My, aren’t you patriotic!” to which I emphatically said YES! I love our nation and I’m honored to be an American. Our government may be flawed, but it’s also incredible in so many ways – and who better to instruct in the ways of fixing it than our youth? I will do all that I can to teach my children about our history and our responsibilities to our country, so that one day they can be labeled “patriotic,” too.

    • Love this, Gabrielle. I might not always agree with our government, but that’s the beauty of what America is– we always have the opportunity for change! Thanks for your comment.

  2. I have often said that everyone should be required to leave America when they are 18 — then they’d appreciate what we have here a whole lot more.
    I fell in love with a man who served 24 years in the military — not my plan at all, but most definitely God’s plan.
    Doing so deepened both my love for our country and my respect for every branch of the military. Most everyone I met served because they wanted to — because they love America. They were proud to be in the military.
    I’ve had friends who have lost spouses and sons … and it’s those heroes I think of today as we celebrate Memorial Day.

    • I agree, Beth. Seeing other parts of the world helps to drive home the wonderful things we have here. And I’m so glad I grew up in a military family. I wouldn’t change that for anything!! (And thanks for the email!!) 🙂

  3. jeanniecampbell

    one of my most favorite things about being an American is the right to write a post like the one you just did. FREEDOM–not appreciated until you don’t have it.

  4. Love your thoughts here. My Grandfather survived Pearl Harbor. When he told me the story of that day as he experienced it, it forever changed my perspective on war and what men and women do in the military. What they endure.

    I’ve since had three uncles, and now three cousins in the military. I’m very proud of them and what they do – also sad that it has to be done.

    And none of them are dummies, but any stretch of the imagination.

    God bless

  5. Amen. Having grown up in a military town, I have a similar perspective. And somewhere around a fourth of my graduating class enlisted after graduation. There’s certainly a different level of respect when the people fighting for your freedom are also your neighbors and members of your church.

    And it’s so true that far too many people take this country–and their freedom–for granted. I wish everyone had the chance to visit a developing country at least once. It would make us all better people and better citizens. It certainly had a profound effect on me.

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