Celebrating America!

I can hardly wait! In just a few weeks we’ll be lighting the grills and flying American flags in celebration of our nation’s birth! Hamburgers and hot dogs will be sizzling over a bed of hot coals, eggs will be deviled, the sweet smell of molasses will permeate our homes as baked beans are pulled from the oven, buttery ears of corn will be steamed, watermelon will be sliced, frosty lemonade will pucker our lips, and that great old American classic…apple pie…will grace many a table.

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays because it brings to mind simpler times. But, as much as I love the images 4th of July conjures up,  I love it most because it reminds me of the Founding Fathers who bravely pledged their “Lives…Fortunes…and sacred Honor” for the freedom and liberty we enjoy today.  It also reminds me to reflect on and regularly pray for those who continue to fight, protect, and defend those principles.

The Founders strongly believed that America’s future depended on parents passing the torch of freedom on to their children. John Adams warned that, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people” and insisted “…children…be educated and instructed in the principles of Freedom.”

Today, America faces a serious dilemma. Will she continue to stand strong for her long-held values and core beliefs? Will she teach them to her children? Or, will she choose to venture down a morally treacherous, unconstitutional slope?

Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Public schools today are not educating students in the principles of freedom. Instead, today’s students (and future voters) graduate without a clue of our nation’s true heritage or solid understanding of the Constitution.

The Founders, however, equated freedom with knowledge and believed tyranny could not exist amid an educated populace. Samuel Adams stated, “No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue preserved.” “On the Contrary,” he went on to say, “when People are universally Ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”

Thomas Jefferson demonstrated he shared similar views on the importance of a well-educated public when he said, “Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish…If a nation expects to be ignorant – and free – in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

The question is then what is to become of a nation whose greater bulk of her citizenry is constitutionally illiterate and fundamentally ignorant of its heritage? I believe the answer and future hope of America lies primarily with Christians and the homeschool community.  It is imperative that we diligently teach historically accurate American truths and virtue to our children; for it is in this way that we will shape and mold America’s future leaders and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

Ronald Reagan once stated, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like to be free.”

So, how do we keep Ronald Reagan’s words from becoming a chilling prophecy? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Take the lead – Begin digging for the truth yourself. American history is fascinating – the more you dig, the more you realize how little of the truth you yourself were taught and the more you will want to go deeper.
  2. Recognize that history is not a boy-girl issue…it is an American issue…and one which we all need to learn, whether male or female.
  3. Teach God’s truths and give your children a solid Biblical foundation. This is their nation’s heritage and a core element of American history – one in which the Founders themselves were well-rooted.
  4. Teach true, non-revisionist American history.  Seek out material that teaches the true story of America, and when using library books carefully choose those without a hidden agenda.
  5. Get to know the Founding Fathers through credible biographies. Discover and examine their core values, beliefs, and hopes for our nation through their own statements.
  6. Second to scripture, instill in your children a solid understanding of the Constitution and its original intent. As God encourages us in regards to scripture, fix the words [of the constitution] in their hearts and minds.
  7. Make it easy on yourself by consolidating your children’s history. The nice thing about the subject of history is that everyone can learn about the same history at the same time. Only your children’s reading and writing assignments will vary according to their abilities.
  8. Make history interesting! History is way too fascinating to make it boring and it is about far more than battle names and dates. It is an intriguing why, where, when, what, who-done-it mystery. Deliver that way. It’ll be way more fun for everyone (including you)!

When should you start? The earlier the better! Kids are natural-born patriots! From an early age they show an affinity for dressing up as their favorite American heroes. American history is also  concrete; field trips to historic sites are all around us making the people and events of the past more tangible and relatable. There will be plenty of time in high school for abstract history. For now, there’s no time like the present to celebrate America.

Happy birthday America!!!