For the Fourth

Kim du Toit has an essay on the meaning of the 4th of July, from the perspective of someone who was born American, just not in America.

The essay by Peter Schramm that he links to makes the point that we aren’t passing on the background, the scaffolding, if you will, that was used to build this country. When I was growing up, we had required courses called Civics and Social Studies and American History that passed this knowledge on (or, at least, made the attempt – you know how students are). We don’t seem to have those courses anymore, and there appears to be active hostility to the idea that America is, or even can be, a force for good in the world.

We now neglect teaching American history, replacing it with world history or multicultural studies. There’s nothing wrong with those, but they shouldn’t replace the teaching of our own history and culture. If you don’t value it, and teach your children that it is something of value, then they’ll have less desire to preserve it.

I understand the point of view Mr. du Toit and Mr. Schramm hold, although perhaps not with the same immediacy. I think any experience of living in a foreign country, or even visiting, if you keep your eyes open, will provide perspective on life in America.

In my case, although I am an American citizen from birth, I was born in England, which led to my having to deal with some less-than-usual paperwork in high school. Because of the location of my birth, and the fact that my mother was British, the US considered that I had dual citizenship with Great Britain. Since I had an American father and an English mother, Great Britain said I was 100% American. Had my father been British and my mother American, though, they’d have gone along with the dual citizenship idea. In any case, I applied to the Air Force and Naval Academies when I was in high school, and the dual citizenship thing came up. As a result, I ended up having to swear out an oath renouncing allegiance to any foreign powers before I could be accepted. So, I’ve got non-passport documentation to prove that I’m an American citizen. I presume that naturalized citizens have something similar, although I’ve never bothered to check.

In any case, I’ve lived in other countries, and I’ve visited yet others. Although there are beautiful places around the world, several of which I’d love to spend extended periods visiting, this country is still the only place I really want to live in.

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