It's almost the 4th of July again and as usual here in Seattle the weather is looking a tad dubious. I have been thinking about this holiday and chatted with my husband last night about the topic of patriotism and just what does it mean to be an American? I live in a very diverse part of the country. As I have watched my city become more and more diverse I have noticed that many of the people coming here from other countries cling together and seem to be trying to create the country they came from again right here only with all the benefits of being in America. Hundreds of languages are taught and preserved in my local school district. With all this diversity and multiculturalism that is taught in the schools, is there room for patriotism? Do the kids regularly recite the Pledge of Allegiance? Maybe in other parts of the country, but not here. There is no American history really taught at the elementary school level beyond the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.
On a radio talk show my husband was listening to yesterday they addressed the issue of declining enlistment in the military. Research has shown that parents are discouraging their children from enlisting---many times because the parents are afraid, but many times because the parents themselves see no honor in it--and if a feeling of patriotism is lacking--pride of country--then is it not easy to see why they feel there is no honor in this action and how this is being passed on to the next generation.
Another radio host went out on the street and asked normal every day adult America citizens why we celebrate the 4th of July. Only 40% knew that it had anything to do with the signing of the Declaration of Independance. I find this fact appalling!!
Now this is where the rubber really hit the road for me.........I have 3 sons! I was deeply challenged by my husband on my views of military service last night and I found it disturbing. I do view myself as a pretty patriotic American. I often cry when I hear the National Anthem. I cry when I hear the song I'm Proud to be an American by Lee Greenwood--because I AM proud to be an American--even with all the faults of this great land. But am I encouraging my 19.5 year old son to enlist?????? NO! Now I have to examine why--and when I do, I find I fall into that group of parents who are afraid. We don't have a huge family history of military service--so the idea of military service is foreign to me. But that is no excuse---and I found out that as my husband was talking to our son the other night, our son felt there was no honor in enlisting. I don't know if he really feels this or if fear is utimately at the bottom of that statement. Now, I am not going to push him to enlist.....but I think I need to have a chat with him to clarify what I truly do feel about serving in the military--it is honorable. He is at a crossroads in his life. He is lacking discipline and direction. He doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. He just completed his first year at a state universtiy (he already has his AA degree) and his university experience was a miserable experience. Don't get me wrong, he had fun and his grades reflect that fact. He is not going back in the Fall--he will have no money. So, the boom has been lowered and he realized that just working this summer will not give him enough to pay for a year of University. He has decided to work summer and fall and try to go back in the winter. But, would the military be a better option for him? I don't know. But I do know that he would grow up and learn some discipline! (Hey--is the Coast Guard considered military??? :) )
Well--that was sure longer than I intended it to be---but once again thes are the musings swirling around this mom's head!