Saturday, the Statue of Liberty’s crown will be open to visitors for the first time since shortly after the attacks on 9/11. When I heard the news, I nearly leapt for joy. It doesn’t mean I’ll be rushing back – one trip up the winding, narrow staircase only to be smashed in a swaying crown (it was windy that day) with 20 other people was enough for this closterphobic history buff – but it made me happy to think others will get that same opportunity again.
The news made me think about Independence Day in general. I’m currently raising a toddler, and it’s important to me that she recognize the nation’s birthday as more than just fireworks, cookouts and holiday weekends. It was while in this mindset that I stumbled across an excellent article by a child psychologist at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton on teaching children patriotism. Dr. Ramey states:
Educating children about patriotism is really teaching them to act as responsible citizens. This is more than simply reciting the state capitals or learning how to vote. It’s about teaching them to think, question, and act responsibly.
One of the greatest things we can do for our children and the children in our communities is to teach them respect, appreciation and humility … as we live among some of the most turbulent economic and political times the world has seen in decades, how much could be solved by raising a generation more mindful of others, more respectful of people, places and things and more aware of those around them?
Dr. Ramey also gives some great pointers on raising children to be patriotic, which, in the spirit of this weekend’s holiday and our passion for children at Operation Kids, I share with you:
- Stay informed and talk to your children about current events, politics, economics, history and what democracy means.
- Take time to reflect – holidays like Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day and others are more than just about parades, time off work and family barbeques. Take time to pause, reflect and learn more about what events and sacrifices led to these holidays.
- Travel – either virtually or in person. Explore new places, new cultures and the historical sites that may be lingering in your own backyard.
- Discuss dissent. Don’t gloss over the less-than-perfect parts of our history as a nation – discuss them, encourage children to be even better than the generation that went before them.
Dr. Ramey ends with a profound statement:
Let’s raise patriotic children who love this country for what we have done and who we are becoming, while still mindful of our long journey in translating our idealistic principles into practice.
As you set out for a road trip this holiday weekend, or gather for a family BBQ or a neighborhood fireworks viewing, I remind you to take a few minutes to share with the children around you why this, of all holidays, matters and what they can do to ensure we all continue to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for generations to come.
Happy 4th of July from all of us at Operation Kids.