Politics & Policy

Pass It On

Teaching patriotism.

The Fourth of July is an all-American day that helps create a shared heritage that unites us as one people, a heritage that every child should learn. It is challenging to raise patriotic young Americans today, and busy parents often lack easy tools, tips, and activities to help kids recognize the importance of America’s founding on July 4.

#aD3I’m sure that most families already make a big deal out of the Fourth of July, at least in the barbecue department. (Sales of barbecue sauce surge all over the country the week before the holiday.) But we suggest families follow to some degree John Adam’s instructions on how to commemorate the glorious Fourth.

Just after signing the Declaration, Adams wrote to his beloved Abigail his vision on how to celebrate America’s birthday party: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by Solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

As for your family’s celebration, Chriss Winston and I — we wrote a book on teaching patriotism — suggest:

‐ Start by having the kids read a book about the Fourth or about a youngster who lived during Revolutionary times so they will absolutely understand what they’re celebrating. There are good books for kids from pre-schoolers on up including The Story of America’s Birthday by Patricia A. Pingry that can be read to the youngest. A terrific book for ages 9-12 is the children’s classic Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes.

‐Go to a parade. Many small towns have one, and kids, even today’s kids with their many computer games, think it is fun to hear the bands playing, see the fire trucks with lights flashing and sirens blaring, and wave to their friends and neighbors.

‐No parade in your area? Make your own. Round up the neighborhood kids for an old-fashioned bike parade and let them decorate their bikes with red, blue and white streamers. Give out prizes for the best decorations. .

‐As for Adams’s “shews,” many small towns and cities also have concerts, featuring patriotic music. The biggies, of course, are on the Mall in Washington and in Boston. If none are close by, pop in a DVD of 1776, a terrific movie musical based on the Broadway play. My kids and I used to watch it every Fourth of July. Also make sure the iPod is loaded with patriotic music. A mother recently told me that she found using the music of different eras was an easy way to teach her musically inclined kids American history.

‐Go to a local fireworks display, because there is no such thing as a bad fireworks display, at least not where kids are concerned. But if you want to have a New York or Boston-sized display over your own hometown or in your backyard you can, (sort of) at least on your own computer. Check out Phantom Fireworks, where you can upload a picture of your town or home and then set off your choice of Fourth of July fireworks on the screen.

‐With the kids, check out the Declaration of Independence on the web site of the National Archives. You can even print out a copy and get the kids to sign. Make a feather pen and berry ink, similar to the pen and ink the Founding Fathers used.

‐There are lots of other websites with holiday craft ideas for kids that will keep them busy all day. Some of the best are www.kidsdomain.com as well as www.billybear4kids.com and www.dltk-kids.com.

‐ And, of course, do what I am about to do. Get the whole family together and go outside and raise the flag!

Myrna Blyth, former longtime editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author, with Chriss Winston, of How to Raise an American: 1776 Fun and Easy Tools, Tips, and Activities to Help Your Child Love this Country. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.

Myrna BlythMyrna Blyth is senior vice president and editorial director of AARP Media. She is the former editor-in-chief and publishing director of Ladies’ Home Journal. She was the founding editor and ...

Most Popular

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Media

The Biden Protection Racket

Joe Biden is the most cosseted presidential candidate in memory. He’s run a minimalist campaign that’s avoided the press as much as possible, while the press hasn’t been braying for more access and answers, but eager to avoid anything that could be discomfiting to the campaign. Never before have the ... Read More
Media

The Biden Protection Racket

Joe Biden is the most cosseted presidential candidate in memory. He’s run a minimalist campaign that’s avoided the press as much as possible, while the press hasn’t been braying for more access and answers, but eager to avoid anything that could be discomfiting to the campaign. Never before have the ... Read More

A Few Cracks in the Progressive Wall

The contemporary progressive agenda — of, say, an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren — has rarely appealed to 51 percent of the American electorate. Most polls show opposition to Court packing and the abolition of the Electoral College. Voters don’t seem to like ... Read More

A Few Cracks in the Progressive Wall

The contemporary progressive agenda — of, say, an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren — has rarely appealed to 51 percent of the American electorate. Most polls show opposition to Court packing and the abolition of the Electoral College. Voters don’t seem to like ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Might Be Winning

I’m far too dumb to be able to shed any light on polls, but I do know something about celebrity and I think I can guarantee this: If President Trump wins re-election, Robert Cahaly is going to become very famous very quickly. Who is Robert Cahaly? The chief pollster for the Trafalgar Group, the only major ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Might Be Winning

I’m far too dumb to be able to shed any light on polls, but I do know something about celebrity and I think I can guarantee this: If President Trump wins re-election, Robert Cahaly is going to become very famous very quickly. Who is Robert Cahaly? The chief pollster for the Trafalgar Group, the only major ... Read More

Trump: Yes

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More

Trump: Yes

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More