The Fourth of July—a day when patriotism is on full display across the United States.
There is nothing quite like American patriotism. It inspires strong emotions:
Who isn’t filled with pride at the sight of our United States athletes at the Olympic opening ceremonies, or fireworks set against the backdrop of our national monuments?
Few things summon up stronger feelings of heartfelt gratitude and patriotism than the somber melody of Taps at a military funeral.
Patriotism alone cannot advance our country’s progress. But it serves as powerful motivation for an equally important but often less celebrated notion: citizenship.
As children, we learn that good citizens not only understand the framework of American democracy and how it works, but also actively engage in politics and contribute time, talent, and treasure to help others at the local and national level.
In a 1902 speech, Theodore Roosevelt said, “The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others.”
The necessary traits of good citizenship Roosevelt identified then remain just as relevant today. Strengthening our democracy and advancing the ideals of our nation require we stay informed, recognize opportunity, and give back to help others. Good citizenship is never passive. By definition, good citizenship is proactive service and sacrifice for the sake of progress—ours, our neighbors’, and our country’s.
On this Independence Day, let’s celebrate the patriotism we feel and the good citizenship it inspires.
Happy Independence Day.
John – We’re all very fortunate to live in a country that fought for it’s freedom, and the freedom of it’s people, at a time when it was virtually unprecedented around the globe. Because of the sacrifices and effort many have endured since the birth of our nation, we all get to reap the benefits of this great country which was not much more than idea over 245 years ago. A friend of mine once gave me something to think about along time ago as to what makes this country special. He said people often point to the idea of our democratic government as our biggest achievement. He didn’t agree. He would say there are many democracies who have suffered the repercussions of an elected government voted in by the majority, only to find oppression or misuse of power by the people elected at the expense of those they were supposed to serve. His opinion was that it was the Bill of Rights that made this nation great. It is the Bill of Rights which grants us the ability to disagree freely, and protect those who don’t currently have the majority opinion. I happen to think he had a point. It also might make for some good discussion this weekend as you are celebrating this great nation and enjoying the freedoms it allows us all.