Letter: Teach children to be proud of our country

From: Kathleen Smith


My son pointed out that in his 12 years of school he has studied the civil rights movement every year. His education on the civil rights movement is outstanding. It started, as it should, with age-appropriate stories about Rosa Parks, then Martin Luther King Jr., then went from there.

But not once, ever, have he and his classmates learned about the perils of communism.

They have learned about the United States’ role in the terrible tragedy of slavery and the inhumane treatment of Native Americans, but nothing about the violent communist Cuban dictatorship of Fidel Castro. They have learned about segregation, but not about the mass-murdering communist regime of the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin. They all know about women’s suffrage, but not about the tens of millions murdered by China’s communist leader Mao Zedong. Our children can recite details about every terrible thing that the U.S. has done. But the mistakes of our democracy are never honestly compared to the tyranny of communism. And worse, our children are ignorant of the tremendous good that pours from the U.S.

These kids haven’t learned about the U.S. roles in the crumbling of the Berlin Wall or the dismantling of the USSR. Even the acts of the brave men who liberated Normandy have been overshadowed by the evil of the atomic bomb. The arrogance of a single politician has been compared to Adolf Hitler, making one of the most evil human beings in history seem like a big bully. The courage of the signers of the Declaration of Independence has been downplayed because some of the signers owned slaves (a terrible evil, but not unique to these men or the U.S.).

This generation knows only the evils of the U.S.; they are not proud of their country because its faults have been amplified and the tremendous good it has done has been hidden. How can we restore appropriate pride in this great nation?

It has to start with our education system. We, as parents, must insist on a fair and accurate portrayal of our common history. I am not suggesting whitewashing history. I am suggesting that we teach our children the truth: the United States of America (despite its faults) is the greatest country on Earth. This 241-year experiment in democracy has produced a nation and people who are generous and brave, who seek peace through strength, and who seek justice through respect for law. The U.S. recognizes the limitless potential of the individual and allows each citizen the freedom to reach his potential. The world at large is a better place because of the U.S. Our military protects the little guy. Our citizenry donates hundreds of millions of dollars for crisis relief all over the world. Our democratic principles inspire other cultures, and our capitalist-driven economy helps to sustain the world.

Teach this to our children. Teach our children to be proud of our country, and in a couple of decades you will see our grown children make our country proud of them.