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.