Families, communities, and nations are stronger when the rising generation is taught the history of their nation and how their government works. To keep America strong, children and youth should understand the founding principles of the United States. They must understand what they are about, and they must also understand that the United States is not perfect.
The people who lived in colonial America sought independence from Great Britain because their mother nation was slowly taking away their freedoms. They fought for eight long years to gain independence before shaking off the shackles. They sought a government that would allow all people to be free, and they created a government based on the idea that all men are created equal.
More than 235 years have passed, and we are still working to gain equality for all people. However, Americans have more freedoms and opportunities than people in any other nation. Individuals in nations all over the world strive to come to America because they see our “city up on a hill” and want to be a part of it. Yet, there are Americans who cannot see the good in America because they have not learned about the founding principles.
Polls show that the everyday American does not know and understand the basic principles of our country and the Constitution. For example, less than fifty percent of the people in a poll could identify the three branches in our federal government – executive, legislative, and judicial. This is a basic principle that must be known to understand how government works. If a person does not understand the division of responsibilities into three branches in the federal government and the separation of powers between the federal government and state governments, they will not understand anything about government.
This is the main reason why parents and grandparents must assume the responsibility of teaching their children and grandchildren about how America came to be and why. This is a critical task because school districts have chosen to stop teaching civics and history – or they adopt false histories like the 1619 Project that wants to “reframe” the history of the United States. With everything else that parents must do, what is an easy way to teach this history?
Michael Warren and his daughter Leah recognized the need for teaching the rising generation about the founding and history of America. They realized that all the national civic holidays – Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving – had all turned into fun days without any mention of civics. “We have hollowed out and cheapened and commercialized our civic calendar to the empty excuses for barbecues, three-day weekends, appliance sales, whatever it is.” They decided to create Patriot Week – an entire week of honoring, remembering, and celebrating America’s history. Patriot Week starts on September 11 Patriot Day (9/11 commemoration) and goes to September 17 Constitution Day.
In answer to this question, “Why do you believe that knowledge of history is so connected to America’s success in the future?” Warren responded: “… First off, I would say that we are not like any other country in the world.” He then expounded on the topic.
We were founded on this proposition that was in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they’re endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, [that] among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“And that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That when any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to establish a new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing powers, such form is to them to seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.”
Now, those words from the Declaration of Independence were revolutionary in 1776, and they remain revolutionary today. We’re the only country founded on the ideal that we have unalienable rights, that God has given us those rights that cannot be taken away from man, and that we have a sacred obligation to protect those rights. And that the whole purpose of government is to protect our rights.
If you don’t understand that, if you don’t understand that your rights come from God and that they are born within you, but just by being a human being, then it’s very easy to give them away. It’s very easy to let the government run over your rights and to ignore your inalienable rights.
And I think we’ve seen this over the course of, really, decades, where people have, instead of defending the rights and saying government is supposed to be our servants, it’s been reversed where people feel like they’re the servants of the government, and that the government gives us what we can use.
Those are privileges, not rights. And that’s a fundamentally corrupt way of working at the American experiment of liberty. And there’s a whole host of these.
The rule of law is intended to ensure that everyone follows the law, from the janitor to the CEO, from the prisoner to the judge or the president. And if you don’t understand that that’s what the rule of law is about, then it’s very easy to ignore it, and have very serious consequences for society.
And because we don’t understand that we live in this uniquely blessed country, it’s easy to give it away and not even realize it.
Warren and his daughter have a website – PatriotWeek.org – where they organized a multitude of ways to get involved. Each day they celebrate a founding first principle found in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, key documents, and speeches. They learn about Founding Fathers and other great patriots who made those principle come alive and the flags from each period. There are many resources on the website, which has been recognized by the United States Senate and more than 15 states.
The website can be used at any time and not just during Patriot Week. You can go there to “learn more about American history and our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence. We have lessons plans. We have a TV show. We have like 130 episodes up on demand. We have a great podcast called ‘Patriot Lessons: American History and Civics’ that you can access there on Apple or Google Play or wherever.”
The website is nonpartisan. They have a 501(C)(3), and they “are really trying to unite the whole country behind those founding first principles.” Registration is required, and a fee (minimum $25) may be required. There are five-minute activities, twenty-minute activities, and hour activities of all different types. If money is tight, you could take the general idea and create your own lesson plans. From a brief look at the website, it seems to encourage volunteers to start Patriot Week celebrations in their hometowns and states.
There are many ways that parents and grandparents can teach civics and American history to their children and grandchildren. I encourage you to find a way to make Patriot Week a part of your life and the lives of your posterity even if you never look at the web site. I believe that the idea of honoring, remembering, and celebrating America’s history can do much to help your posterity to become true patriots and to strengthen your family, community, and nation.