Sunday, June 28, 2009
For whatever reason, I love all things Patriotic. I love flags, I love the Fourth of July, I love a parade, I love fireworks, I love patriotic music. There's something about it all that is not only exciting and thrilling, but something that also creates in me a great reverence and quiet respect. I suppose it has much to do with knowing how our country was formed, the battles that were fought, along with all those many facts and lessons of bravery that we learned in U.S. History. I'm sure that many of you feel the same.
A few weeks ago, my 5th grader participated in his end-of-year program, which revolved around the U.S. History they have studied throughout the year. I had no idea what to expect, but for some reason, didn't expect much. In addition to learning about American history, they have been learning to play the ukulele all year long, and I knew they would be playing them for part of the program. (How great could a ukulele concert be?) And can you imagine teaching 125 fifth graders how to strum and play that instrument each and every day? What a saintly music teacher. It gives me a headache just thinking about it.
So, I was amazed at the great quality of the program, to say the least. First of all, each student was dressed in red, white, or blue, which created an impressive sea of patriotic color. The program consisted of clever and well-delivered dialogue about various and quirky facts about our nation, along with a variety of classic folk and patriotic tunes that were sung. Ones we all grew up with: "This Land is My Land", "What's More American?", "I've Been Working on the Railroad", and more. Nearly half of the songs were sung while each of the students were playing the ukuleles. I was so impressed with their precision, and how well they all knew the lyrics as well as their parts on the ukes. To hear those cutie kids belting out those songs with gusto and pride, made my heart swell a bit.
About a third into the program, the kiddos began singing "The National Anthem". Now, like many of you, I'm sure, that song is touching to me anyway. We in the audience stood and placed our hands over our hearts along with the 100+ fifth graders that were performing. At that point, I got teary-eyed, as I could see that each of these children knew every word to that song, and were singing it with pride. While watching them perform that song, I thought of the crazy state of our nation, of schools that have banned prayer and are trying to ban the "Pledge of Allegiance", and of movements trying to remove "In God is Our Trust" from our currency. I was so grateful at that moment for marvelous teachers that had taken the time to teach these songs and had instilled pride and respect for the simple things that represent the beautiful nation that we live in. The simple acts of focusing our eyes on the flag as we sing, or placing our hands over our hearts, or even simply standing when the flag passes by....so many of these things have become casual in our society, and are disregarded as important actions of respect for our country. How grateful and touched I was to see that these kids had been taught that.
Thomas Jefferson said, "How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of and which no other people on earth enjoy!" What great hope that is for our nation, if we can raise a generation that truly understands the blessing of living in this free nation; a generation that loves it and reveres it. May God bless America.