Now, more than ever, we need to remember why we are proud to be Americans. Ours is a nation that strives for the highest ideals of liberty and integrity, and we are privileged to live under a Constitution that affirms the inherent dignity and God-given rights of every individual. We are blessed to call America home.
This Independence Day, make your pride for America go viral! Here are 10 ways you can share what makes you a #ProudAmerican:
1. Learning about the Pledge of Allegiance
“The first thing that actually popped into our heads was the Pledge of Allegiance and what it means,” VanEeuwen says. “So many times we just learn to say it that we have no idea what it means.”
Aside from learning the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, you also can learn about how to respectfully display the American flag.
2. What to do during the national anthem
Do you know what to do at a sports event when The Star-Spangled Banner, our country’s national anthem, is played or sung? It’s one of the ways to show patriotism for our country — and it’s one of the top lessons VanEeuwen and Langenderfer put on their list.
“So many times we are fiddling with our iphones or we keep our hats on,” VanEeuwen explains.
Outlined in the United States Code, during the national anthem, you should stand at attention and face the flag, or face toward the music, with your right hand over your heart. Men not in uniform should remove their hats and hold it with their right hand, putting the hat over the left shoulder so their hand is still over their heart. The guidelines are a bit different for those in uniform.
3. Honor soldiers
There are many brave Americans serving in the military for our country, or who have served in the past. VanEeuwen says you should learn to “honor soldiers who have served or died.”
“It doesn’t matter if you agree or not with what they were doing, but it was the fact that they’re willing to die for our rights,” she notes.
4. Know our basic freedoms
Another addition to the list? “To know our basic freedoms and respect that others have those same freedoms,” VanEeuwen says.
Freedoms such as those outlined in the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments in the U.S. Constitution). This important document in American history is the decree that allows us the freedoms of speech, religion and the press — and that’s just the First Amendment.
Learning that everybody has the freedom to hold different opinions and beliefs is valuable.
5. Our core democratic values
As a democracy, there are core democratic values fundamental to America: “Things our country was built on,” VanEeuwen explains. Those include common good, justice, liberty, popular sovereignty, life, equality, diversity, pursuit of happiness, truth, patriotism and rule of law.
Try to understand what do these words mean and what rights do we have as Americans? .
6. Learn about our government
Something you should learn: How our government works here in the United States.
Do you know “We have three branches,” and “Who makes laws? (What are) the rules of the Supreme Court?”
There are resources online to help you understand and learn about our branches of government, how laws are made and more.
7. Our responsibilities as citizens
“Being an active and involved citizen is the best way to support our country and keep it strong,” adds Monica McCauley, fifth-grade teacher at Hampton Elementary in Rochester Hills. “This is a government for the people and ‘by the people,’ and we need to understand that our involvement is crucial to our success as a nation.”
What does it mean to be a good citizen in our country? VanEeuwen says our responsibilities include: “things like voting, paying attention to issues — especially in your community.”
8. People and places significant to our nation’s history
There are people who contributed to our country in various ways, and locations families can still visit that are significant to America’s story — all of which are important for you to learn about.
You can make history come to life by visiting your local history museum, or on a vacation to an area like the District of Columbia or Boston.
Even on the way to another destination, you can find historic spots along the way, Take an opportunity to learn why the area is significant or why a certain historical figure is important. Find a way to relate it to your life today.
9. Appreciate our diversity
Michelle Ingraham, a fourth-grade teacher at Brooklands Elementary School in Rochester Hills, emphasizes the importance of diversity in our country.
“America is the world’s melting pot,” she says. “Our immigrants brought much more than suitcases — they brought their culture and traditions. That is what makes our country what it is today!”
10. That we’re not perfect
Lastly, knowing “we have a history that isn’t perfect, but we can continue to work toward everyone (being) equal now,” VanEeuwen says. She notes her eighth graders learn about the Native Americans in America, Reconstruction Era and Jim Crow laws.
Learning about slavery and other pieces of America’s history, like the Jim Crow laws, ensures the stories continue to get told.
“What did we do and why was it wrong and what can we do to make sure it never happens again?” she says.