With Patriots Day and the parade almost upon us, I have some thoughts I have been considering for quite a while that I would like to share with you.
Now, I am not a flag-waving, America-can-do-no-wrong “perpetual patriot”. However, I have been thinking about this for quite some time and the more I do the more I think it is true. I believe the majority (not all) of the so-called millennial generation (birth years from the 1980s to the early 2000s) do not hold the traditional values of freedom and liberty and our form of government in as high a regard and appreciation as we (the so-called senior members of our society) do.
While you could with justification point to the low regard towards government in general, that is not what I am addressing here. I am referring to their emphasis on making the big bucks and living in luxury and comfort with little thought or regard for the freedom we have or the history of that freedom. Not to sound cynical, but I even believe many would surrender some of that freedom if it meant job security with a decent income.
I am also not referring here to the current appreciation extended veterans who have served the country, particularly those who have recently served. When I returned home in 1953 from Korea, no one gave a damn. When they returned from Vietnam, most of those heroes were derided and abused. Not so today and that is a good thing.
I guess it is the lack of patriotic fervor by these younger people that bothers me. Except for paying homage to George Washington, there is little knowledge or understanding of the Founders and their founding of the nation. How many have an awareness and appreciation of the enormous contributions of, along with Washington, other founders such Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton and Tom Paine in creating this nation? There is little interest or understanding of our federal government with its separate branches and why it was configured that way. Many do say the pledge of allegiance or sing the national anthem in rote without conviction or consideration of their meanings.
I believe some of the problem lies with the schools. How many schools still teach civics and how many teachers encourage love of the country and its basic principles with their students? I suspect that many teachers consider such expressions of patriotism to be undignified and, if you will, unsophisticated. And how much exposure to the Constitution do students get today? And let’s not let parents off the hook. How many teach and encourage discussion of the nation’s proud history and the awesome freedom and liberty we have?
All of this said, we live in a nation of essentially good people, and even with what many consider ineffective leadership, the alleged invasion of our privacy, a dysfunctional and seemingly, for many, “for sale” Congress, the distrust and hatred by radical Muslims and much of the rest of the world (until they need us), a down-the-middle-divided, seemingly inflexible political constituency and whatever other “faults” we may have, we remain a great nation “with liberty and justice for all.”
Let’s get that message out to everyone and let’s celebrate it in some way every day. And…let’s show some patriotism by doing a little flag waving, cheering and participating in the parade on Saturday, March 1.
Arnold Silverman, commander of the Laguna Beach VFW Post 5868, served in the Korean War.