A Thoughtful Patriotism. (in Focus)

By Stevens, Robert | Social Education, January-February 2002 | Go to article overview

A Thoughtful Patriotism. (in Focus)


Stevens, Robert, Social Education


ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, the United States was attacked. The toll of deaths was staggering at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the rural landscape of western Pennsylvania. September 11 may be remembered as a second "day of infamy." Both attacks--the December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack and the September 11, 2001, attack--came from the air and without warning. The images were eerily similar. Black billowy smoke rose in great plumes through the twisted steel of the bridge of the USS Arizona with "Old Glory" still flying over the destroyed U.S. fleet, the spirit of its seamen not vanquished. And on September 11, great plumes of acrid smoke wafted through the steel skeleton of the World Trade Towers. The American flag went up immediately. As was the case for the Pearl Harbor generation, our patriotic spirit was rekindled.

September 11, 2001, will become a national day of mourning and remembrance. The courage of the firemen and women, police, soldiers, and citizens who witnessed and participated in rescue operations galvanized a spirit of patriotism not felt since Pearl Harbor. The tragedy of this single day seems to have moved us as a nation from an attitude of individualism back to a sense of community. As social studies teachers, what lessons will we teach our students about September 11, 2001? And how will we promote patriotism to a younger generation?

One lesson is that, as a nation, we are not immune from world conflict. For the past several decades, we have watched world events unfold in the comfort of our living rooms; images from drought-stricken Somalia, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, terrorist attacks in the Middle East, and catastrophic earthquakes on the Anatolian Plateau. On the 11th, we rapidly moved from detachment to involvement; instead of studying or observing history, we became part of it, and our challenge as social studies teachers is to help our students make sense of history. In his essay, "What Children Should Learn," Paul Gagnon insightfully reminds us that "the big story is not the push to modernize but the struggle to civilize, to curb the bestial side of human nature." (1) He continues:

   Because human evil exists, good intention has never been enough. It takes
   brains, courage, self-sacrifice, patience, love--always with tragic
   consequences--war itself to contain the beast. Against the twin temptations
   of wishfulness and cynicism, history says that evil and tragedy are real,
   that civilization has a high price but that, too, is real, and has been won
   from time to time. In history we find ideas, the conditions, and the famous
   and ordinary men and women. Making it possible. (2)

So we, too, are at war. We find ourselves no different than our forefathers when they chose to form a new government or the Pearl Harbor Generation-at least in the sense that, just as they did not know what the outcome would be or what sacrifices would be made, we do not know, either. One fact is certain, however: Our students need to be taught well. It is dear that as the United States executes a "new style war," a war that involves political, financial, as well as military strategies to defeat a nebulous enemy, we must continue to teach those democratic values that support our current patriotic fervor.

We know that values taught well to the young will stay with them throughout life: "Political scientists have found that civic attitudes and patterns of behavior formed when young tend to persist throughout adult life." (3) The "Greatest Generation"--what Robert Putnam has called the "civic generation"--has remained unabashedly patriotic and pervasively participatory.

My generation, deeply suspicious of government, came of age during the Vietnam War and Watergate. Our patriotism (and some would argue we had none) was not duty and obligation to the government, but rather duty to respect the U.S. Constitution. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Thoughtful Patriotism. (in Focus)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.