Teaching Kids Patriotism and Respect for Our Military
SEE BELOW FOR CONTEST INFORMATION ON HOW TO WIN A FREE COPY OF SHADOW EYES!
As a foster parent, I had the privilege of having a 4-year-old boy with me over the 4th of July holiday. I say “privilege” because it truly was amazing being able to teach a young child about our country and why we celebrate that day. He was so eager to learn. We talked about the flag and how important and symbolic it was. I also taught him the pledge of allegiance, which he picked up quickly. One day I will never forget is when he spotted a flag in the middle of a giant antique store while we shopped. He immediately yelled, “Flag!” and put his hand over his chest. I swiftly followed suit and let him lead us in the pledge of allegiance. It was adorable, and we got some motherly, heartfelt smiles cast in our direction as well. He got it. He understood.
As a high school teacher, sometimes I see the opposite, and it breaks my heart. It seems like every year I have those few students that don’t say the pledge of allegiance every morning. Most will stand without prompting, but some don’t even put their hand over their heart let alone at least pretend to mouth the words. It’s dis-heartening to say the least. Also, from having conversations with them and hearing them talk, I found that some don’t understand how you can not support the war but still support our soldiers who are fighting in it. They feel like if we’re in a war and the economy is bad and things aren’t exactly the way they want them, then our country isn’t as awesome as everyone says it is. There is often no inherent awe and respect for our great nation.
So what can we do to teach our kids to respect their own country and the service men and women who helped and are helping make it what it is today? Modeling and explaining. We can’t just tell them to salute the flag or respect the military. They won’t listen. This is a generation that is very independent and wants everything to be justified to them. “Why do I have to do this?” “Why is this so important?” “What I can I just get by with?” We need to model to them how to show respect, and then we need to explain to them why it’s so important. They need to see the value in it.
Explaining the importance of patriotism and respect was one thing that our school’s legend, Mr. Tom Colley, never had a problem with. He taught World History for us as long as anyone can remember, and he was also a veteran. I guarantee you, every one of his students came out of his class with not only a love of history, but also a reverent respect for our military and country. He taught them what it meant to be a true patriotic American – the “old-school” way. Sadly, he’s retiring this year. Words cannot express how much he will be missed. I only hope we can carry his torch after he’s gone by teaching our youth the way he did.
So what do you all think? What are your thoughts on young people and patriotism or respect for our military? What ideas do you have for helping them become the respectful, patriotic citizens we all want them to be?
(WRITING A COMMENT ENTERS YOU TO WIN A FREE COPY OF SHADOW EYES! Winner announced Tuesday. Be sure to include in your comment your email so I can get a hold of you if you win. ALSO, IF YOU WANT TWO CHANCES TO WIN, FOLLOW MY BLOG FOR THE CONTEST THAT ENDS AT THE END OF MAY FOR THE SAME PRIZE!)