Teaching our children the value of patriotism
by Maureen Ruby, DMD
Our recent national tragedy has prompted us to think about
many issues – including the concept of “patriotism.” As defined by Webster, patriotism is “a love for
or devotion to one’s country.” Just where does
“patriotism” fit into our lives and the lives of our
children in today’s world?
James (1843-1916) said, “I think patriotism is like
charity – it begins at home.” James’ words could never have more meaning than
they do now. Our
children, younger and older, have been literally thrust
into the midst of a war – a war on home soil, which they
see played out before them on the TV screens in our homes. Many have been intimately touched by the intrusion
of war into their personal lives. First Lady, Laura Bush, in her September 12th
letters to elementary, middle, and high school students
talks about the feelings of loss, sorrow, fear, and
confusion, as well as heroism, love, compassion, freedom,
and resilience. In her letters, Laura Bush encourages children to speak to
their families, those who love and care about them, about
recent world events. We, our children’s first teachers, have the
responsibility for laying the foundation for what our
are many ways we can “teach” patriotism to our
our children witness the frenzy to purchase and display
American flags, we can teach them about the significance
of our flag and teach them to respect the flag as a
national symbol of patriotism and loyalty to our country. We can teach them the meaning of our “Pledge of
Allegiance” and that Francis Bellamy wrote it in 1892 to
encourage the school children of America to pay tribute to
the flag in commemoration of Columbus’ discovery and to
revive their patriotism. Bellamy insisted that Americans needed more than to
just salute the flag: “We need a vow of loyalty, a warm, human pledge of
allegiance, based on what the flag stands for.”
can learn patriotism by being included in the voting
process. Take your children with you into the voting booth
with you on Election Day. Explain the process in a meaningful way and help
your children experience the power and privilege of voting
by encouraging family “voting” in your decision making
can instill a sense of national pride in our children by
looking beyond the commercialism and re-discovering the
meaning of our national holidays. Teach your children that the intent of Memorial
Day, July Fourth, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving is not
to glorify war, but to honor those who fought and
sacrificed for our country and to be thankful for our
the meaning of patriot by re-examining with your children
the concept of “hero” and what it means to them. Encourage our children to don the costumes of
firefighters and law enforcement officers, rather than the
violent action figures of past Halloweens.
patriotism into fun and appropriate activities at home. Craft activities and snacks that we make with our
children can shift the focus from war to patriotism.
Make a patriotic wreath for your home or help your
children make pretzel sparklers for an after school treat.
Turn on some patriotic music.
Read books that instill patriotism, and teach about
our nation’s history.
Have your children speak with grandparents about
the “good old days” and history as they lived it. In so doing, we can recapture for our children that
sense of “appreciation” for all that we have and to
diminish their reliance on “instant gratification.”
Henry James, patriotism does begin in the home!
and Snack Activities
long rod pretzels
white chocolate, melted
sprinkles (red, white and blue) or star cake decorations
the white chocolate. Dip the pretzel rod halfway into the
melted chocolate then sprinkle the sprinkles over
Fourth of July Wreath
this simple wreath and look like a star this 4th of July.
Hang it on your front door to welcome your friends and
family or take it with you as a gift to YOUR host.
You will need:
- 11 yards 1" wide red-white-and-blue ribbon
- 20" grapevine wreath
- Three 4" x 6" American flags
- Floral wire
Weave 2 1/2 yards of ribbon through the grapevine
wreath. Glue the ends of the ribbons together the bottom of the wreath.
Arrange three flags at the bottom of the wreath in a fan
shape so they slightly overlap; glue the flags in place.
Use a small amount of glue to secure the edges of the
flags where they overlap.
Cut two 36" lengths of ribbon and fashion a small
multi-loop bow from each piece; tie with floral wire. Glue
a bow to each side of the wreath.
Use the remaining ribbon to make one large multi-loop bow.
Glue bow to the bottom of the wreath to cover glued
sections of ribbon and flags.
- The War by Anaiis Vaugelade, Carolrhoda Books, 2001,
- Fireworks, Picnics and Flags by James Cross Giblin, Ursula Arndt (Illustrator),Houghton
Mifflin Co., 1983, Reprint Edition, Ages 4-8
- The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh, Marie Nonnast (Illustrator), Marie
Nonast (Illustrator), Aladdin Paperbacks, 1995, Reprint Edition, Ages 4-8
The Flag We Love by Pam Munoz Ryan, Ralph Masiello (Illustrator), Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000, Ages 4-8
Hurray for the Fourth of July by Wendy Watson, Clarion
Books, 1992, Ages
I Pledge Allegiance by June Swanson, Rick Hanson
(Illustrator), Carolrhoda Books, 1991, Ages
A More Perfect Union : The Story of Our Constitution by Giulio Maestro,
Betsy C. Maestro, Guilo Maestro (Contributor), Mulberry Books, 1990, Reprint
Edition, Ages 4-8
The Star-Spangled Banner by
Peter Spier (Illustrator), Francis
Scott Key, Yearling Books, 1992, Reprint Edition, Ages
Uncle Sam & Old Glory : Symbols of America by Delno C. West, Jean M.
West, Christopher Manson (Illustrator), Atheneum, 2000, 1st