A friend of mine suggested that I write about the above subjects. Told him that it would be an easy task for as a former teacher, I taught traditions and patriotism in my classroom. But before that happened, I witnessed both as a student myself in not only grade school but all throughout my years as a student. It was the norm then for my teachers to instill traditions in us as well as patriotism.
As with today, we would all stand up and recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag but there was much more then. After the pledge, we said The Lord’s Prayer and then we always sang a patriotic song that our teacher had chosen. The song that we sang would be either “God Bless America” or “The Star Spangled Banner:” Sometimes our teacher deviated from these two and suggested we sing other patriotic songs.
We learned respect for the American flag and for American heroes or heroines. Many of our stories in our reading books were about these heroes which led many of us to want to learn more. Of course this was the fifties when patriotism was at its highest or so it seemed. Patriotism was not something that was just mentioned; it was taught—we learned a love for our county, our traditions and respect for those that fought in wars before us. There wasn’t a week that went by that patriotism wasn’t taught or ingrained in us.
Forward to junior high school and patriotism was still being taught. Movies were shown to us such as “A Man Without A Country” which is still vivid to me this very day. Not only did we learn it but we felt patriotic.
High school brought more of the same of teachers instilling patriotism into us as well as American traditions. Lessons were learned and many assignments were related to these two topics. Respect for the flag was still being taught. It was the sixties.
Upon entering college, there were many required history classes that continued the teaching of American traditions and patriotism. I would take what I had learned in these years and use them when I became an elementary teacher.
How odd it was for me to be standing in front of my own classroom while leading the pledge of allegiance, having my students recite The Lord’s Prayer and singing a patriotic song. Felt as if I had come full circle. I contacted a Boy Scout leader and asked him to come to my classroom; gratefully he did. And my students learned the rules of the American flag as well as the patriotism behind it.
This continued for years—that is until we could no longer say The Lord’s Prayer in the classroom: It was forbidden by a new law. But it didn’t stop me from teaching American traditions or patriotism for they were two fundamentally important subjects. And as for the patriotic songs? No more singing of “God Bless America” and yet there were other songs that my students sung. But I could see a turn and that turn was not for the better for the turn was a choked full day of scheduled classes leaving little time for instilling these two important subjects.
Right before I retired from teaching elementary school, I saw the dwindling of time for teaching both traditions and patriotism. Through thirty-five years I had taught both and what was left? The only thing left was the students standing and reciting The Pledge of Allegiance.
In this world gone crazy, there is a need to bring back these two fundamental subjects: Teaching American traditions and patriotism. We need our children to feel proud of America and feel the American spirit for if not, we will become a nation that is clueless about both. Time for it in the classroom? Time should be made for them less we produce a nation of students who could care less. And so I ask you “Do you want a nation of sheep that know nothing of our country?” “Do you want a nation of sheep that have no respect for the American flag and what it stands for?”
Time is of the essence. Surely the powers that be can allow time for teaching these two subjects for it not, our nation will crumble.
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