The following is a Guest post by my friend and fellow blogger Karen Lembo (karenlembo.com)
Before They Fail to Remember
“I don’t like America.”
My eleven-year-old’s comment shocked me.
This child? The one who has been raised in a Christian home and school, infused with traditional values, whose freedom was defended proudly and bravely by her Marine grandfather? How could she say such a thing?
Moreover, how many others like her would say the same thing if allowed to speak without fear of reprimand?
She is a post 9/11 baby. She is a child whose personal history only dates back to the start of the 21st century. She has never known a world without the Internet, I-pods and American Idol.
I think we, as a culture, are failing her, and her peers.
We are failing to teach them the honor and privilege of being called an American. But how did this happen?
As I reflected on this during the rest of our car ride, my mind drifted to my own childhood, which spanned the years of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and Watergate.
I guess, at eleven, I would have said, “I don’t like America,” too.
It was a pretty dark time to be a kid. Not a tough time. Not like the Depression or WWII that drew people together. It was a dark time. A time when the TV brought dying young boys into our living rooms nightly on the news, when civil unrest burned up cities, and everyone seemed locked in conflict: youth and adults, the police and protesters, blacks and whites. It was a time of questioning the legitimacy of the government we once trusted and of pushing the envelope past longstanding “traditional values.”
It was the start of a slow dismantling of our American pride.
On this Memorial Day, I think we need to commit to the defense of this nation in the eyes of our children. We need to teach them what is so great about America, before they fail to remember all they have gained at others’ expense.
We can do that by pointing out the Blessings of our Freedom amid the Disappointment of our Failures.
Rather than piling on lofty patriotic platitudes (our savvy kids see through that), we need to admit that, yes, America is not a perfect nation. No nation is perfect because people are not perfect.
But America promises the greatest hope for perfection because America is founded on godly principles.
People have streamed from every country in the world to America in order that they, too, might gain the Freedom offered by our Constitution. This freedom allows people to protest wars (like Vietnam and the Iraq War) and other government actions (like the Watergate Scandal and the Affordable Care Act) that they feel are unjust.
This freedom allows women to walk down the street with the same dignity as the men passing by them, with their heads covered only if it is their preference, not out of fear of imprisonment or worse.
This freedom allows children of every race, creed, gender, and economic status to sit side by side in school and learn about and even debate the history of our nation and its leaders.
America invented this kind of freedom and many Americans have lost life and limb in its defense. Our hope is that not even one more soldier will ever have to die in battle, but, because our freedom has many enemies,we honor those who are willing to give their very lives to continue to defend our liberties.
The way I see it, many are committed to dismantling our children’s pride and hope in America. But it is our responsibility as parents to promote the blessings and benefits of American liberty, as well as to honorably memorialize those who have defended it. We are the greatest influence in our children’s lives. Let us take up the challenge and help make them proud to defend this great nation, whatever the cost.
What are your thoughts?