Teaching children to love our country
By Sally Webb Amstutz
I fell in love with America when I was a little girl. My patriotism stems from celebrating our country’s birthday with my family.
Our Fourth of July festivities looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. Old Glory would fly high on the flagpole in the center of the front yard of my grandparents’ log cabin that overlooked a river.
There were freckle-faced children, a couple of dogs that would try to snag bites of food and the sound of a cranking ice cream maker. At night, we’d circle the flag pole with our sparklers and catch fireflies in jars that would serve as our night lights.
Patriotism has always been important to my family, but the love for America is instilled in the hearts of each new generation. I’ve tried to carry on this heritage with my children and grandchildren.
Summertime is filled with opportunities for parents to share the rich history of America with their children. There are many holidays for us to celebrate America’s greatness and the freedoms we enjoy. Although young children may not understand what they are celebrating while fireworks are booming in a night sky, it’s our responsibility to teach them.
Memorial Day doesn’t just signify the beginning of summer; it’s a time to remember those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. This holiday began after the Civil War when families decorated graves with flowers, flags and ribbons. If you know a veteran, let your children see you thanking them for serving our country. They deserve our deepest gratitude.
Flag Day, which is observed June 14th, is a time to celebrate Old Glory. It is important that children have respect for the flag and know how to honor it. When a flag passes during a parade, we should observe proper protocol by placing our right hand over our heart, removing our hats and saluting those who keep us free. Your kids will enjoy the website, www.USA-Flag-site.org .
The Fourth of July may be the most popular patriotic holiday and one that children love to celebrate. The Indianapolis-area does an amazing job of providing many fun-filled family activities. It’s a great time to establish your own family traditions for honoring America’s independence and remembering the values of our nation’s founding fathers.
Here are some ways to celebrate our country and teach our children.
- Hold your own neighborhood parade and let children decorate their bikes, wagons, and tricycles.
- Do face painting with red, white and blue.
- Fly the American flag from sunrise to sunset at your home and teach your children to properly care for it.
- Let your children paint with red, white and blue. Dip star cookie cutters in paint to make prints. Flowers such as daisies and Queen Anne’s lace can be dipped in paint to create firework prints on paper.
- Bake a sheet cake, frost it with white icing and let the kids have fun using strawberries and blueberries to create a flag.
- Enjoy the website, www.va.gov/kids together. It has fun games, activities, cool facts about veterans and links for all ages.
- Read some of the patriotic books together such as, America: A Patriotic Primer, by Lynne Chaney, We the Kids, by David Catrow, The Young Patriot’s Book of Puzzles, Games, Riddles, Stories, Poems and Activities, by Carole March, and The Star Spangled Banner by Peter Spier. My mother read the books, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire to us, and they are still classics today.
- Find books at the library that feature famous American artists and their patriotic works. Norman Rockwell’s paintings and The Four Freedoms have been reproduced and distributed more than any other paintings in the world. Rockwell’s inspiration for these paintings came from the State of the Union Address that given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.
- During your summer travels, point our historic sites to help your children treasure this great land of ours. Visit Spencer county, Abe Lincoln’s boyhood Indiana home or other great historical sites in our state.
- In November, when you vote in the elections, explain to your children what a privilege it is for Americans. You’ll be setting the best example for them too!
By encouraging children to love America, value its freedoms and respect its laws and history. We can lay the groundwork for them to become good citizens. Together, we must let our children know that God has blessed America and He has blessed us as citizens of the greatest nation on earth.
Let the celebration begin!