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What I learned in 8th Grade

Updated: Jun 25

A long time ago when I was thirteen and in eighth grade, I realized I was an American and that I was proud to be an American.

That year we studied government, took a field trip to the state capital and learned what the

Constitution was and what it guaranteed. What I learned and incorporated into my identity, into who I was and how I saw myself, was that compromise had been essential to the establishment of the governing principles of the United States of America, and that the guarantees of the Bill of Rights were fundamental to the aspirations promised in the preamble. I was an American, and I was proud of my country and what it stood for.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect

Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the

common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the

Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and

establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

With almost thirty students in my classroom, the idea of We the People was inclusive, as were the notions of general welfare and the Blessings of Liberty, meaning I perceived that they applied to every one of us in that classroom regardless of socioeconomic standing or race. These were grand, magnanimous ideas that stirred my soul. There may have been disparity among various groups, but the promises were there for all, with the hope that we, the people, would work it out.

In 1962, the country was forty-four years from WW I in which my grandfather fought in France, and seventeen years from World War II in which my father restored Patton’s shelled out tanks in France. We were only nine years from the Korean war. Patriotism was high and national memory strong about the sacrifices and reasons for those wars.

It would be thirteen long years until 1975 and the inglorious conclusion of the Vietnam war. The country changed. The Civil Rights movement inflamed the country’s conscience about racial inequality. Abortion was decided to be a right by an activist Supreme Court. The drug culture expanded, readily available contraception fueled a woman’s liberation movement, and there was rebellion against the virtues and morality upon which our country was founded. The seeds for today’s chaos and socialistic trends were planted in institutions of education. (See Coddling the American Mind).

Sunday, May 26, I was in church when the closing song, “America the Beautiful,” was

announced. The congregation stood spontaneously. Those beautiful words, sung thousands of times in the days following the terrorist attack of 9-11, had great meaning that day, particularly the phrase, thy liberty in law.

Laws aren’t effective unless there is adherence. Adherence to law creates order, equality, and predictability. It fosters a sense of security. Our first governing documents provide ways to alter and create law depending on circumstance. In order for the people to trust that process, law-makers must have integrity and a dedication to the country that supersedes personal interests. People who willingly ignore or disobey the law, or selectively obey based on some personal agenda, should be removed from society. They endanger the innocent.

I am still proud to be an American but I am alarmed. I do not see the better natures of our

leaders playing out. Rather, watching congressional hearings and trying to tease out truth from the various media outlets that have blatant agendas, I see self-serving strident politics and political stupidity in terms of what is happening to our country.

An election is coming. My first guiding principle in voting will be who will best uphold the law, the laws that will guarantee the continuation of liberty for each of us, that will not play favorites, or trample on justice. May I encourage you to consider the same.


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