BY MARY ELLEN CARLSON, HERITAGE HOUSE CHILDCARE & LEARNING CENTER
Instilling the value of patriotism in your children is worthwhile. It enables children to see beyond themselves. It helps them to understand what it means to be an American. All children want to feel a part of something special. We as parents and mentors have an opportunity to give this legacy to our children as they grow up in this magnificent country.
Expose your children to the world of historical and political figures. Don’t forget to look into your own family history for relatives that have served in that capacity. Sharing these stories of relatives you know will make it personal to your children. Kids take pride in knowing someone in their family has played a role in our country’s preservation of freedom.
Our country’s history gives us a limitless number of facts to introduce to our children. Schools play a big part in filling our children’s reservoir of knowledge in this subject area. We can go beyond what the schools offer and create an atmosphere where children at a young age experience excitement being patriotic! Celebrating patriotic holidays will create this excitement. Do something meaningful and come up with family traditions that revolve around those holidays. Involve yourself and your children in local events and parades, etc. Talk to your children about the ceremonies; what they mean and why we celebrate. Visit your local library and obtain books to read that make these events, celebrations, and stories come alive. Engaging in local community events is an easy and inexpensive way to plant the seeds of patriotism.
Significant historical sites are also great places to visit. This can be done locally, statewide, or nationally. Trips are dependent on time, money, and the adaptability of your children to travel. Don’t make a short day trip or a longer vacation laborious. Plan according to how your individual children travel. All places that you visit can be made fun just by your adjustment to make it pleasant. There is a wealth of history and museums within a fifty mile radius of Jamestown. Go to the NYS government websites and look for local historical places and parks to visit.
Learning about all the freedoms we experience because we are Americans is an appreciation you can model for children. Talk to children about the freedom to vote, freedom of the press/speech, and the freedom to practice any religion. Take your children to the voting booth to see you exercise that freedom. If they see these places and become comfortable with them, it will be an easy step for them to take on that responsibility when they become eligible to vote. Introduce your children to politics by having conversations about policies and events that are happening. Teenage and young adult children in the home make for a creative back drop of political discussion. Ask their opinions about rights such as the Freedom of Speech. Talk about current events daily so that they become interested in and can engage in the dialogue. Open this world to them so that it is a comfort zone for them. This is the perfect time to let your child know they have a voice and how to use it in constructive ways. One example for young children would be to allow them to vote on the dinner menu or movie choice. It is a simplistic view of what a democracy is. Gearing activities to fit the age readiness of your children makes this a fun
game. It is the beginning stages of the concept of the power of choice.
Fly the American flag at your home. It is the symbol of our county. The history of our flag is a picture album of our country from birth, take time to learn it and pass those images on to your children.
Writing this article brings back a couple of memorable moments in my life. One is the day our daughter was naturalized as an American citizen. It is a portrait I will never forget. I watched as many made the transfer of allegiance of their birth country to America. I saw in their eyes the conviction and love they felt as they said those words. I saw in those faces the chances, the excitement, and the appreciation of what was to come. It was a ceremony of rebirth. As I followed the promise of the Oath of Allegiance that day, it was a time of recommitment for me to do everything I could to make sure my children knew how fortunate they were to be a part of this great nation.
Many years later, I had the honor of witnessing my two sons take the oath of office as they committed themselves to the Navy and Air Force. These three days are etched in my memory bank forever. When we make claim to our spouses, significant others, children, families, friends, and country, we have the obligation to give as well as the blessing to receive.
As we celebrate Independence Day, we take ownership of what we have in this majestic land. We are reminded of the admiration, love, and respect that we have for our fellow Americans. We will continue to show our children what a distinction it is to be a part of this place we call home.
Our honor and thanks to all those that have and are serving in the military and political world. We give our heartfelt thanks for your dedication in the protection and preservation of our freedom.
“America raise your flag to wave, for we truly are the home of the brave.”
Mary Ellen Carlson has extensive experience in Elementary Education. Before assuming the duties as Director of Heritage House Childcare & Learning Center, she taught at Panama Central School, owned and operated her own home day care, and was the Project Coordinator of “Write Team,” a grant-funded project at the James Prendergast Library.
Mrs. Carlson earned her B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.S. in Curriculum Development/Elementary Education from SUNY Fredonia. She has also continued her education through training in sign language, child abuse prevention, and writing.