There are three things I care about more than anything else: My faith, my family and my country. That is why I am focused on making sure our kids grow up with the same values. As we look back at the events of September 11, 2001, it’s hard to believe that some of our kids were not even alive on that day that changed America.
How to Raise Patriotic Teens
How do we raise teens with a deep sense of patriotism and an understanding of our American history? How do we help them understand the importance of the historic events that have shaped our nation and our lives?
Over the summer, we were able to take our kids to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Just like many of you, my husband and I remember in vivid detail the events of September 11, but we didn’t expect the waves of emotions that we experienced when we drove into the Memorial Park. The time spent walking along the path down to the wall of remembrance and standing there overlooking the field where Flight 93 went down was sobering.
While walking through the museum, there were many other visitors but the silence was intense. Everyone was engrossed in the memories, the emotions and yes, the pride. I watched my teen and tween children at the displays and then walked away together as we wiped the tears and quietly talked about the events of that day.
This past spring, my daughter and I visited Freedom Tower and the Reflecting Pools in New York City. We experienced the extremes of emotions as we went from shock and horror at the events that transpired on that day to feelings of intense pride in our American heroes and strength of our country. My daughter kept talking about how people can try to knock America down, but we just rebuild and come back stronger.
We think it is important to visit these memorials and show respect, but also crucial to the next generation of Americans to spend time remembering and visiting these memorials.
Talk about Bravery:
In every bad situation, there is always a story about bravery and helpers. I love the quote from Mr. Rogers – “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ When bad things happen in the world, we look for the stories of the heroes and celebrate those people with our children.
There is a sign at the Flight 93 memorial that talks about how it took 30 minutes to transform strangers to heroes. Our family spent many hours after we left the memorial talking about what we would do if faced with a situation like theirs. Do we have what it takes to stand up and make a difference? All throughout American history, we have seen stories of citizens standing up and showing bravery in really tough situations. By sharing these stories of bravery and heroism, we are instilling a deep sense of pride and patriotism in the next generation.
Lead by Example:
One of the most important things we can do as American citizens is vote in every election. Are you registered to vote? With less than 3 months before the next presidential election, it is crucial that you register now! Check your state guidelines to make sure you have registered and prepared to cast your vote.Take your kids with you when you vote! Let them see the importance of being there to make your voice heard!
Respect our Leaders:
One of the things that makes America great is the freedom we have to share our opinions. No matter where you stand in the political arena, let’s come together and agree that we should respect the ones in leadership. If we treat our leaders with respect, then our children will grow up with an appreciation for our leaders. Throughout the history of this great nation, Americans have had strong opinions about the leadership and the direction our country is going. We don’t have to always agree, but we can all show respect to the office and leadership.
How are you raising your kids and teens to be patriotic? Do you visit memorials and spend time remembering the events of our past? As we remember 9/11, let’s find ways to help the next generation continue to love our great nation!
Excerpts of this article first appeared in the print edition of the Advocate Messenger, Danville, KY