I have received many email forwards, then I have forwarded them to people on "my list". I love these touching, warm, funny emails. I started saving them on my computer, so I would never lose them. I decided to create a blog to hold all these email forwards, so others can enjoy them and so I can easily refer to them when I want. I hope people who love email forwards as much as I do, or like reading funny and inspirational readings will find this site and share it with others.
Click on the link below and on the RADIO - put in your birthday - anniversary - anything - Then Click on what country you want to know what the number one song is - UK - USA - Australia - Canada - Germany and it will tell you the NUMBER ONE SONG FOR THAT DAY
The Statue of Liberty's torch is parked in front of the western side of Madison Square in 1876.
A German Tank almost falls off a Russian bridge on July 4, 1941.
The crew of the USS Lexington abandon ship following torpedo strikes on May 9th, 1942.
Women welders at Lincoln Motor Company in 1918.
The first armed airplane of the Serbian army in 1915.
Times Square in 1922.
The dedication of the Washington Monument in 1885.
Race official Jock Semple tries to push Kathy Switzer off the road after she attempts to run the Boston Marathon, which at the time was men's only. Number 390 pushing Jock away was Kathy's boyfriend. 1967.
The first human x-ray taken by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1896, for his efforts Roentgen was the recipient of the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901. The image is of his wife's hand.
Trapeze mining in Bonne Terre Missouri 1917.
Julia Clark in her Exhibition Plane, 1911. Miss Clark was the third woman to receive a pilot's license from the Aero Club of America. She was the first female pilot to die in an air crash in the United States in 1912.
Greyhound in 1923.
The first photo of the Earth from the moon taken by Lunar Orbiter in 1966.
The first image of Titanic since its sinking in 1912. Taken in 1986.
The attack on Pearl Harbor taken from one of the attacking Japanese aircraft on December 7, 1941.
Southwest Airlines stewardesses in 1962.
Inside the turrets of the USS Massachusetts, 1898.
The funeral of Victor Hugo in 1885.
Hannah Stilley, born 1746, photographed in 1840. More than likely the earliest born individual captured on film.
A balancing act atop the Empire State Building in 1934.
Ansel Adams, 1979. He broke his nose during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and never had it fixed.
"Högertrafikomläggningen" - the day Sweden switched from driving on the left to driving on the right (1967).
The Dalai Lama at age 2 in 1937.
The London Underground in 1890.
Paul McCartney takes a selfie in 1959.
Smuggling beer during prohibition sometime between 1920 and 1933.
Illuminated tires invented by Goodyear in 1961.
Directional sound finders used to detect incoming enemy planes in 1917.
The aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
The PGM-11 "Redstone" - the World's First Nuclear Missile displayed in Grand Central Station, July 7, 1957.
I am forwarding this political tirade because it touches on a number of issues facing us. Whether it is radical Islamists, Political Correctness, national malaise, or stupidity, it gives us a mirror with an unsettling view.
Ask any person, not your child between the ages of 18 and 25, if they ever heard of the Nuremburg Trials. 1 in 13 might say they have, but will not be able to tell you "what" was on trial (not who). Those same people will not be able to tell you the name of the Vice President. 84% of those who receive this will not read it completely, or at all. 10% will but will also chose not to forward it. The remaining 6% will forward it.
The war started in the 7th century and lasted through the 17th century. I would contend it never stopped but historically the facts below are correct.
This is why I choke when I hear someone say we will defeat or contain these Islamic terrorists in a few years or even 30 years as recently stated by Leon Panetta.
If the latest batch of murders, beheadings, and killing of innocent Christians has shocked you, maybe you should read this compilation of historical facts about the hatred of Muslims.
WE, THE STUPID
This is factually (and historically) correct - and verifiable:
In 732 A.D. The Muslim Army, which was moving on Paris, was defeated and turned back at Tours, France, by Charles Martell.
In 1571 A.D. The Muslim Army/Navy was defeated by the Italians and Austrians as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to attack southern Europe in the Battle of Lepanto.
In 1683 A.D. The Turkish Muslim Army, attacking Eastern Europe, was finally defeated in the Battle of Vienna by German and Polish Christian Armies.
This has been going on for 1,400 years and half of the politicians don't even know it.
If these battles had not been won, we might be speaking Arabic and Christianity could be non-existent; Judaism certainly would not exist.
Reflecting: A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine that America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to themselves. Pause a moment and reflect back.
These events are actual events from history. They really happened!
Do you remember?
47 years since 1968 and this just keeps going on and on.
1. In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by a Muslim male.
2. In 1972, at the Munich Olympics, Israeli athletes were kidnapped and massacred by Muslim males.
3. In 1972, a Pan Am 747 was hijacked and eventually diverted to Cairo where a fuse was lit on final approach. Shortly after landing it was blown up by Muslim males.
4. In 1973, a Pan Am 707 was destroyed in Rome, with 33 people killed, when it was attacked with grenades by Muslim males.
5. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by Muslim males.
6. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by Muslim males.
7. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by Muslim males.
8. In 1985, the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70-year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by Muslim males.
9. In 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by Muslim males.
10. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by Muslim males.
11. In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by Muslim males.
12. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by Muslim males.
13. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take down the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by Muslim males.
14. In 2002, the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against Muslim males.
15. In 2002, reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by - you guessed it - a Muslim male. (Plus two other American journalists who were just recently beheaded).
16. In 2013, the Boston Marathon Bombing resulted in 4 Innocent people, (including a child) being killed and 264 people injured by Muslim males.
No Obama, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you? So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people.
So, ask yourself "Just how stupid are we???"
Absolutely No Profiling! They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the Obama's security detail, 85-year-old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, BUT...leave Muslim Males alone lest we be guilty of profiling.
Ask yourself, "Just how stupid are we?" Have the American people completely lost their minds or just their Power of Reason???
Let 's send this to as many people as we can so that the Gloria Alred's and other stupid attorneys, along with Federal Justices, that want to thwart common sense, feel ashamed of themselves -- if they have any such sense.
As the writer of the award winning story "Forrest Gump" so aptly put it, "Stupid Is As Stupid Does."
Each opportunity that you have to send this to a friend or media outlet... Do It! OR JUST SIT BACK, KEEP GRIPING, AND DO NOTHING. As OBAMA SAID IN HIS BOOK NOTHING SOUNDS SO BEAUTIFUL AS THE MUSLIM EVENING PRAYERS FROM THE TOWER.
A Canadian man working on a dock in Stewart, British Columbia. The town is in the valley behind him. Stewart has an unusual fellowship with its American neighbor, Hyder, Alaska, which relies on many services from across the border, including electricity, and also uses Canadian currency. Jim Wilson/The New York Times
HYDER, Alaska — If libertarians had an earthly paradise, it would probably be here in Hyder, Alaska. Separated from American governments and bureaucracies by immense wilderness, Hyder has no property taxes or police, and citizens can carry firearms openly. Yet the village, wedged between two Canadian borders, has long relied on neighboring Stewart, British Columbia, for groceries, electricity and other services.
So July 4 might be called Interdependence Day here. That’s when Canadians cross an unguarded United States border into Hyder and continue the Canada Day party that begins on July 1 — and that the Yankees heartily join.
In Hyder, the celebration includes a pet parade (“people dress ’em up and walk ’em down the street”) and an ugly vehicle contest (“they have to run, and that’s about it”). There is also a competition known as the Bush Woman Classic, in which women — and a few men in drag — must chop wood, flip a pancake, catch a fish (in a bucket), shoot a water gun at a man in a bear costume and then apply lipstick on the way to the finish line.
The spirit of international cooperation between Hyder and Stewart goes back to the early 1900s, when the two communities were founded as mining towns on the shores of a fjord abundant with salmon, seals and halibut. While they may be in separate countries, daily life has bound them ever closer through marriages, blizzards and bears that fail to respect international boundaries. President Obama even alluded to the bond when the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, visited the White House in March.
“It’s basically the same town. We’re just a little more free over here,” said Joel Graesser, a steel sculptor who fled New York City a decade ago for Hyder, where wolves occasionally venture into his outdoor studio.
Carl Bradford, 60, moved to Hyder when it was still a mining town. Back then, he could make $150 a night just by picking up dropped money as he swept the floor of a bar. Jim Wilson/The New York Times
The easternmost town in Alaska, Hyder sits below snowcapped peaks and glaciers that glint cerulean blue in the sun. To reach the rest of the state, the 87 or so people recorded in the last census have to wait for the United States mail plane that flies from Ketchikan twice a week, weather permitting.
The only road into Hyder winds under a hand-painted sign that reads, “The friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska,” and past the old American Custom House (which closed during the Carter administration), a bar and some stores before leading to a few residential streets and a post office nearly hidden by towering pines.
Alaskans here set their watches an hour ahead of the rest of the state to match Stewart in the Pacific time zone, and accept Canadian currency. For years, Hyderites sent their children over the border to the school in Stewart, which has roughly 500 permanent residents, the only grocery store for miles and not much else.
Neither town has a bank.
To save money, Hyder residents often team up to buy bulk orders of food or shop for goods online, all of which arrive on the mail plane.
“If you’re into travel or ‘bright lights, big city,’ you’re out of luck,” said Kris Wagner, 41, a bartender at the Glacier Inn, one of Hyder’s two saloons. The inn’s walls are covered with $95,000 in autographed currencies dating to 1956.
The crossing between Hyder, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia. In a rare display of friction, the signs on the right appeared after a Canadian decision to close the border overnight, which drew mock comparisons to the Cold War divide between East and West Berlin. The decision has been rescinded.
What Hyder lacks in modern amenities it makes up for in epic wilderness — and unchecked liberty. Law enforcement appears just a few times a year, when an Alaska state trooper flies in with a radar gun to catch speeders — usually drivers of mining trucks or the summer tourists who come to see the bears during the salmon run. The only noise comes from howling wolves, falling boulders and the occasional shooting practice.
Not surprisingly, Hyderites are an eclectic bunch of nature lovers, survivalists, folks who live off the grid and former miners with a penchant for quiet, if boozy, living.
“The whole town’s a character,” said Ms. Wagner, a salty ex-Californian who will happily help visitors get “Hyderized,” a tradition that consists of drinking a shot of grain alcohol in one gulp. Those who keep it down get a certificate; failure means buying a round for the whole bar.
The two towns were once home to about 10,000 people, during the gold rush more than a century ago, when Hyder was built on stilts over tidal flats and Stewart was notorious for its brothels.
But the population dwindled as the mines shut down. Many of the Hyderites who stayed and the more recent arrivals say they came largely to answer the call of the wild.
Diana Simpson setting out a board she uses to discourage bears from breaking into the kitchen at the restaurant she operates out of a bus in Hyder.
“I’m into bears,” said Susan Craft, 71, a retired accountant from Texas who moved here with her family 40 years ago after several visits to Alaska. “My husband wanted to stay married, and he figured I wasn’t leaving.”
Carl Bradford, 60, known as Bar Fly, showed up around the same time, looking for work after a run-in with the law in the lower 48 states. Before the Granduc copper mine closed in 1984, he could make $150 a night sweeping up at the Sealaska bar just by picking up dropped money. But it was the great outdoors that kept him here.
“At 3 a.m. the moon is out, the mountains are glowing with snow and you can hear wolves howling in the valley,” said Mr. Bradford, a part-time United States Forest Service worker. “There’s just no comparison.”
The landscape has a similar effect on folks in Stewart. “I like to take a bong toke and stare at the mountains,” said Janna Watson, a 20-year-old waitress.
Tourism has largely replaced mining in these parts. Residents say more than 100,000 people arrive by car, motorcycle and recreational vehicle in the summer, drawn by natural monuments like the vast Salmon Glacier, about 18 miles from town and over the Canadian border. Local guidance is necessary: Just about everyone can recall close encounters with black bears or grizzlies in town, some of which have not ended well.Credit“I’m into bears,” said Susan Craft, 71, a retired accountant from Texas who moved here with her family 40 years ago after several visits to Alaska. “My husband wanted to stay married, and he figured I wasn’t leaving.”
Without the authorities to protect them from the wildlife, Hyderites tend to be well armed, which sometimes comes as a shock to their Canadian neighbors.
“When I first went to Hyder and saw them all walking around with guns, I was like, ‘Holy cow, this is America,’” said Twyla Korgel, 46, who works at the King Edward Hotel and Liquor Store in Stewart.
Firearms are not allowed past the Canadian customs checkpoint. Still, Hyderites have occasionally broken the law, like that time Caroline Stewart slung on her 12-gauge shotgun and strapped a .357 Magnum revolver on her hip to defend a Canadian customs officer being harassed by a bear.
“That’s what you do here,” said Ms. Stewart, 61, the owner of a Hyder gift shop, who arrived with her “doomsday prepper” parents in 1972. “I’m not going to let some line in the sand stop me from saving my neighbor’s life.”
Guns are not the only reason for the Canadian checkpoint. Many years ago, Ms. Stewart said, large shipments of American liquor, cartons of cigarettes and groceries were smuggled into Canada under cover of darkness to avoid that country’s higher taxes.
One of the weary buildings in Hyder. Jim Wilson/The New York Times
These days, however, it is simpler for Canadians just to drink in Hyder. “Might as well go over there, get good and liquored up and have someone bring you home,” said Liz Nelson, 50, a waitress at the Silverado Cafe & Pizza Parlor in Stewart.
Still, the Canadian border offers a lure for certain Hyderites: a legal drinking age of 19, two years lower than in the States.
For those even younger, crossing into Canada has been a necessity during periods when Hyder had fewer than 10 children, the minimum required for Alaska’s government to send in a teacher. The Hyder school reopened two years ago in a former bottling plant, and it will have about a dozen students in the fall, ranging from kindergarten through high school.
Some rare diplomatic friction occurred early last year when the Canadian government closed the border between midnight and 8 a.m. to save costs. “So much hell was raised,” Mr. Bradford said. Residents complained that they could be cut off from emergency medical care, or worse, and that tourists would be unable to see the bears at Alaska’s Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site.
In protest, some Hyderites installed a sign near the crossing that declares “Checkpoint Charlie” and then “You are leaving the American sector.” The Canadians eventually relented, but only after Lisa Murkowski, one of Alaska’s United States senators, got involved.
These days, things are back to normal, said Carly Staehlin, 42, a Texas native and cafe owner who lives in Stewart with her Canadian husband. But Ms. Staehlin still likes to spend time in Hyder, where the Stars and Stripes flap in the wind and she finds a familiar sense of freedom.
“Every time I cross that border,” she said, “it’s like I’m coming home.”
A version of this article appears in print on July 3, 2016, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline:
The 1851 oil-on-canvas painting by Emanuel Leutze entitled
“Washington Crossing the Delaware”
is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The painting commemorates Washington’s 1776 Christmas
cossing of the river during the American Revolution.
When we celebrate the Fourth of July with a three-day weekend, picnics and fireworks, we sometimes forget the real meaning of the holiday. The quiz below provides an opportunity for you to test and refresh your civic knowledge of the landmark occasion in American history that we celebrate. It was created by the scholars at the Ashbrook Center (www.ashbrook.org) at Ashland University in Ohio, which has designed similar quizzes for other holidays.
1) The Fourth of July commemorates what important historic occasion?
A. The end of the Revolutionary War
B. The signing of the Declaration of Independence
C. Adoption of the Declaration of Independence by Congress
D. The signing of the Constitution
2) In which city was the Declaration of Independence signed?
B. New York
3) Which of the following did not sign the Declaration of Independence?
A. Thomas Jefferson
B. John Adams
C. William Whipple
D. George Washington
4) Which of the following was included in the Declaration as a complaint against King George and the British Parliament?
A. Allowed only British tea to be sold in America
B. Imposed taxes without consent
C. Appointed liberal non-originalist judges
D. Gave charters to Church of England only, not other religious bodies
5) Which memorable phrase is not included in the Declaration of Independence?
A. Give me liberty or give me death
B. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
C. The laws of nature and of nature’s God
D. Supreme Judge of the world
6) The original Declaration of Independence is housed in:
A. Independence Hall in Philadelphia
B. Library of Congress
C. Smithsonian Institution
D. National Archives
7) How many delegates from the 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence?
8) Which two presidents died on the Fourth of July?
A. George Washington and John Adams
B. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
C. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
D. Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt
9) Which president was born on the Fourth of July?
A. Calvin Coolidge
B. Howard Taft
C. Dwight Eisenhower
D. Richard Nixon
10) According the Declaration of Independence, the people have the following right:
A. The right to bear arms
B. The right to equal protection of the laws
C. The right to alter or abolish their government
D. The right to a free education
David Davenport is former president of Pepperdine University and a visiting fellow at the Ashbrook Center.
Gordon Lloyd is a senior fellow at Ashbrook and a professor of public policy at Pepperdine. They wrote this for InsideSources.com .
The greatest symbol of the United States will be honored Tuesday, June 14, with National Flag Day, designated as such by an act of Congress in 1949 and signed by President Harry S. Truman.
According to nationalflagday.com, Flag Day quietly was spawned by a Wisconsin teacher in 1885 who with his students began marking the June 14, 1777, anniversary of the congressional adoption of the Stars and Stripes. The idea spread over the decades and was officially established as an observation by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Still, it wasn’t until Truman’s signature 30-plus years later that it became a nationally designated day.
Many people will fly the flag outside their homes Tuesday. Steve Olson, senior district executive of the Sierra Valley District of the Boy Scouts of America, uses information from the 2015 Boy Scout Handbook to share American flag propriety in this week’s Monday Top Ten.
The flag, Olson added, “is very important to the Boy Scouts of America.”
Here are Olson’s Top Ten things to know about the Stars and Stripes, etiquette regarding it, its care and retirement – including information on where in the Modesto region to take worn flags for proper disposal:
1. Remove your hat and place your hand over your heart when singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem.
2. Remove your hat and place your hand over your heart when the flag is hoisted or lowered or passes in front of you.
3. The flag may be flown every day sunrise to sunset. If flown at night it should be illuminated.
4. The flag should be flown on all national and state holidays and other days proclaimed by the president of the United States.
5. When the flag is displayed with other flags, it should be in a position of honor to the right. It should be flown above other flags when sharing a flagpole.
6. In a group of flags, the American flag is hoisted first and lowered last.
7. The flag should be briskly raised and lowered slowly.
8. The flag should not be allowed to touch the ground when lowered. It should be folded into a “cocked hat” shape. See the Boy Scout Handbook or www.usflag.org/fold.flag.html
9. The flag is flown at half-staff to show sorrow following national tragedy. To do this the flag is first hoisted to the top of its flagpole and then down to the pole’s midpoint. When it is lowered, it is again raised to the top and then slowly lowered.
10. An American flag that is worn beyond repair can be burned to ashes in a private ceremony of dignity and respect.
The flags can be lowered into a fire lengthwise, placed on the fire in its customary triangle fold with the stars facing out, or hung and set on fire.
The ceremonies often involve salutes, a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and prayers. At the end of each ceremony, the ashes of the flag generally are buried.
They also can be delivered to veterans groups for disposal.
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/living/article83148197.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/living/article83148197.html#storylink=
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/living/article83148197.html#storylink=cpy
To this day I remember by fifth-grade teacher. Miss Avery, as we called her with great respect, was a Vermont farm girl who was brought up to work hard and make something of herself. She often let us know about the values her parents had given her, and she let us know that she wanted to impart those values to us. I remember her exhortations - be diligent, a word she favored; be conscientious, a word she made sure each of us knew how to spell; be considerate of others. She insisted that we learn the meaning of a noun she liked to use, a long one, we thought: kindheartedness. She kept on the blackboard, all year, this aphorism, written in white chalk for us to contemplate: "Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tries, a touch that never hurts." Never? I was skeptical that I could meet such high standards. Miss Avery reminded us that we all slip, but that direction truly mattered: a goal to pursue, values to have and uphold - in her phrase, another one still alive in my consciousness, "a larger vision."
Those three words were tethered by Miss Avery to something concrete that stood right before us every day: the flag of the United States of America. She was constantly telling each of us, "This is your country." She took pains to explain to us what the word "democracy" meant, what America's founding fathers had in mind when they fought for independence. We were only 9 years old, but she wanted us to understand what we one day would inherit - a sovereign privilege and responsibility to vote, the bedrock of our participation in a larger community.
Not that she wanted us to ignore historical wrongdoing and close our eyes to the mistakes that had been made and the many injustices that were committed over the generations. Quite the contrary. She especially loved Abraham Lincoln, and we spent a lot of time learning about his life. And in so doing, we spent a lot of time learning about slavery and the long struggle of Negroes (the word we used then) for their rights. Indeed, 20 years before the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Miss Avery was reminding the 25 or so of us that "equal justice under the law," those words embedded in the marble of the Supreme Court building, amounted not to a description of what is, but a call to what ought to be, hence, a call to action. Nor did the fate of Native Americans, called "Indians" by us then, get overlooked in her elementary school classroom. She used pictures and narrative accounts of life among the tribes of the Midwest and the Southwest, which she read with obvious feeling, in order to let us know about blemishes and worse in our country's rise to political, industrial and agricultural might.
Nevertheless, every day we sang our national anthem, and every day we saluted our nation's flag. Every day, too, we had a history lesson right after that exercise in allegiance. And it was then that a thoughtful and original-minded teacher made us turn from a glib recital of loyalty and a smug nationalist pride to quite something else. She asked that we put ourselves in the shoes of the presidents and generals whose achievements (and misdeeds) we were reading about. We were asked to take sides and to argue one or another point of view before our classmates. We were asked to consider who took what position and why - with respect, say, to the Revolutionary War (the Tories versus the Concord and Lexington farmers who stood up to the British), the Civil War (the South's planters versus the abolitionists of New England), up to the 20th century (those who favored intervention in European struggles and those who opposed it).
Such assignments, inevitably, split us up - we were youngsters, after all, and we became quite immersed in our arguments. Yet, we were also breathing life into a subject called history by being asked to look inward and think about what is right and what is wrong, and how we ought to live our lives - a leap of the moral imagination. "History is taking place right now," Miss Avery kept telling us. And as Adolf Hitler's screaming, hate-filled voice could be heard on our radios at home, she courageously had us argue even that contemporary issue - some of us advocating "isolationism" (that America stay clear of foreign entanglements) and some of us upholding an "interventionist" posture (that America was part of a community of nations, and so had to take certain stands, some moral in nature, some based on self-interest). Such discussions prodded us to consider, inevitably, the very notion of nationality: How completely should a nation command our loyalties - and what if one disagrees with the foreign policy of one's own country?
We were getting, I now realize, a moral education, a civic education, all through an examination of America, its history, its political and economic and social and cultural evolution. We were being asked to reflect upon our own lives as they would soon enough develop. What did we owe ourselves and what did we owe others, the community, the neighborhood where we lived - and by extension, the sum of all those communities and neighborhoods that constitute a nation? Such a question, which prompted in us energetic, searching inquiry, was a tribute, really, to the determination of a particular, boldly independent-minded teacher that we celebrate our national loyalty not solely through the recital of pieties, so easily forgotten seconds later, but through a candid look at events in America's past and present life.
Even now I often find myself wondering how to talk about America, how to ask my own children or my students to think about their native land. In school after school, these days, I notice classrooms without the American flag; and teachers again and again tell me that the salute to the flag never takes place, even in assemblies, held in auditoriums where the flag often is at least present. Some teachers are pleased at such a development: They tell me they abhor what one of them called "reflexive patriotism," meaning a compliant, unqualified hurrah to a nation. It is a good thing, they assert, that both the Bible and the flag have taken leave of the classroom.
I respect a certain skepticism of unblinking, pietistic avowals, be they directed at the flag or elsewhere. Children need encouragement to sift and sort, to be wary of what strikes them as phony or hypocritical. But children also need convictions - something (and someone) to trust, to hold up as worthy of admiration. Moreover, we are all Americans. This is our country, and there is much in its history for us, most of us, to be contemplated with a good deal of pride: the sanctuary, for instance, offered to untold millions over centuries of time, orphans from various storms who have found here so very much that is sustaining. Sure, some paid a heavy price for this achievement - the Native Americans who were relentlessly conquered, the blacks who were forcibly brought here. Yet, as Miss Avery did with us in our fifth-grade classroom, there is a way for teachers and students to pay homage to a country, while at the same time reserving the right to make objections, to register strenuous disapproval, even to cry out in anguish and outrage at various kinds of perceived wrongdoing.
When we fifth graders saluted the flag and spoke of "liberty and justice for all," Miss Avery was quick to remind us of the difference between an idealized statement and the social, legal and racial reality for too many Americans. No question, I have been in particular classrooms, in entire schools, where no such ironies are allowed acknowledgment - where salutes to the flag and florid statements of American moral excellence are in no way modified by any educational inclination to poke below the surface of things and take a hard and close look at what really goes on in the everyday life of millions of American citizens. Still, at the other extreme, I have sat in schoolrooms where the national values and principles - the very things that enable the full and free discussion that is taking place - are willfully ignored, as if the Bill of Rights in all its glory is to be as overlooked as the flag.
What about the flag? What about the national anthem? What about America's historic achievements? What about pride of country? How might all of that (ought all of that) be integrated into the school life of our children, and thereby, into their personal lives? I believe a nation's values come to bear on the moral life of its young citizens - for, without question, boys and girls at 5, never mind 10 or 15, know whether they are reasonably free to express themselves, to be critical of established authority, to worship as they please, to go about their ordinary way without constant surveillance and interference from the police or the army. Interestingly, I learned this not here in the United States but abroad - in South Africa and Brazil and Nicaragua and Poland, where even preschool children knew political fear and anxiety and understood their possible jeopardy at the hands of a nation's political and military authorities. I remember a white South African girl, from Cape Town, only 5, telling me, "You're not supposed to be friendly with `the colored.' " I asked her why. She said, "The government doesn't like it." I asked her what her parents thought. She replied, unforgettably, that her parent told her, "The law is the law."
We are lucky, of course, to live in a country in which political indoctrination and political power that is beyond challenge are unthinkable, and where dissent is no life-threatening step. It is important that we remind ourselves and our children that such is the case; it is important that we keep in mind not only the errors made in our nation's past, the missteps and misdeeds and worse, but the social, economic and racial struggles that have been waged with some considerable success that have meant, in their sum, a decent and free life for millions of us. We have good reason, all of us, to want our children to appreciate this country, hail the flag as its symbol, sing the anthem as a gesture of affiliation and affection - even as we expect them to become citizens of a kind Lincoln knew to be so necessary, citizens unafraid to look squarely at what still needs to be done if a nation's ideals are to become its everyday reality.
(Robert Coles is a contributing editor to Family Life Magazine. This article originally appeared in the July/August issue.)
Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.
Robert Coles, MD
Robert Coles, MD, is an author and was a professor at Harvard Medical School