Proud to be an American; Citizen engagement is driven by patriotism taught in the classroom.



In 2012, a year when we decided who the most powerful man in the world would be, only 53 percent of the voting-age population actually voted. In 2010, when we voted who has the power to control the president, only 37 percent of the voting-age population voted. Despite this lack of engagement and care, people are constantly complaining about Washington and how politicians never get anything done. In early September, Gallup noted that it had “never measured lower levels of trust in the federal government” to handle domestic or international issues, even in the Watergate years.

Today the dissatisfaction seems passive, as many Americans appear resigned to a dimmer future at home and abroad. As a nation, we have grown more apathetic and have a developed sense of entitlement. George Washington warned us to “guard against the imposters of pretended patriotism,” but that is not our problem. The encouragement of patriotism is no longer part of our public educational system, and this has weakened America.

Thomas Jefferson was convinced that there needed to be an education for all citizens if the United States were to flourish as a country. He understood that schools must provide “to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; to enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts, and accounts, in writing.”

Jefferson knew that American education had to produce a necessary patriotism. Democracy depends on the participation of its citizens in their own government and on their own free will to risk their lives in its defense. But patriotism is not popular anymore. As liberals worship on the alter of tolerance, they view patriotism as intolerant, arrogant, and war-hungry.

Being patriotic does not require us to belittle or attack other countries, nor does it prevent us from being critical of our own. Love for one’s country is necessary for it’s survival. A man who hates his job or his family cannot be expected to be successful in his duties, so too, is it with our nation. The United States has relied on its great strength of being enormously diverse and accepting of people. But this strength is also a great danger and can destroy the unity that has allowed us to thrive.

At a time when the United States military is removing thousands from the active-duty ranks in a bid to reduce the force strength, the Defense Department announced plans to let some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children enlist in the military. The Military Times reports that a program, called the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI, which currently allows recruiters to search for foreign nationals with unique skills, will be expanded to accommodate the new policy.

As a country, how can we allow people who disregard our laws to be the ones in charge of defending us? If a country’s own citizens no longer wish to defend their country, what is the point of even trying? We live in a time when civic duty has been undermined, and national unity is under attack. This is what the decline of America looks like.

The answer to these problems and our only hope for the future lies in education, as Thomas Jefferson believed. Public education has raised up the individual and encouraged separatism at the cost of forging a single people, the building of a legitimate patriotism. Belief in the common good has been replaced by relativism. We have become a country of selfish individuals, heedless of the needs of others.

We are facing an enemy that hates Western ideals and everything that America represents. Terrorist groups, like ISIS, are bent on destroying us and will not rest until they have done so. How can we possibly expect to defeat them if we do not love America as much as they hate it? To defeat this evil, we must be united. We must take up the burden of self-governing. To quote George Washington again:

“It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.”

If turning out to vote is the largest sacrifice you can make, then please do so. That is the first step towards becoming a united nation again. Be proud to be an American this November, and vote.