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"There is a kind of bad citizenship which is taught in the schools. U. we must return to our beginnings." To talk about American citizenship. He spoke nearly a century ago to the alumni of the College of the City of New York. they declared their independence based on self-evident truths. You can begin that chair of citizenship in the College of the City of New York. Gary Hughey. yes… but patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest. USMC. Deputy Commander. even learning.S. Twain continued. creating a political rule in the sovereignty of the people and launching an experiment in self-government. Think about what they did: they defeated the strongest military and economic power in the world.College of the Ozarks Citizenship Forum Point Lookout. and they created a framework of government . secured rights while allowing for change through its own amendment. You can place it above mathematics and literature. to see the world through the eyes of that remarkable generation who founded our nation. but no real good citizenship taught… Patriotism. the world-renowned humorist and philosopher. had some very interesting thoughts about good citizenship. Have you ever thought about this? Is there a college in the whole country where there is a chair of good citizenship?" Mr. His remarks followed those by New York's Mayor: "I agreed when the Mayor said that there was not a man within hearing who did not agree that citizenship should be placed above everything else. Transportation Command Responsibilities of Citizenship in a Time of Transition Mark Twain.Gen. they wrote a constitution limiting power. MO 8 April 2004 by Lt. and that is where it belongs.
"Genius" is used a lot. One of them. or military power. "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization. Thomas Jefferson said it well. "Our Constitution is in actual operation. the challenge that has faced each generation of Americans ever since: "A republic. " …but in the world nothing is certain but death and taxes. as he departed the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. are in that category. what they saw ahead." Franklin and those other men of courage and wisdom knew that their experiment in self-government depended entirely on how future generations conducted themselves." When asked if the framers had created a monarchy or a republic. wrote our constitution. perhaps with a wry grin. The genius of what they did." he replied. That is our responsibility. was that the republic could survive only with the care and protection of its citizens. At the end of the American Revolution. was guarantee that the experiment in self-government would succeed. as citizens of the United States of America. James Madison wrote Congress' "Address to the States" and very clearly laid out our responsibilities: "The citizens of the United States are responsible for the greatest . announced that. everything appears to promise that it will last…" adding. he framed the dilemma. They knew those citizens would have to be committed to the ideals of self-government and willing to get involved. couldn't do." Franklin. What they did not do. it expects what never was – and never will be. but those who founded our nation. involved. or the economy. but on the daily life of an informed. "if you can keep it. Jefferson and the others understood that this nation depended not on the strength of laws.that bestows the same blessings of liberty on their posterity. Benjamin Franklin. honorable citizen of good character. to educate themselves about any and all issues effecting the life and health of that republic.
if they're worth having." Since September 11. military in the midst of Global War on Terrorism. To do this.S. faithful generation. one of the most prominent lessons is that the world is a dangerous place. good faith. But. to renew the transcending spirit of our founders. gratitude and all the other qualities which ennoble the character of a nation and fulfill the ends of government be the fruits of our establishments. and an example will be set. we must re-examine. Our freedoms. this "greatest trust". the cause of liberty will acquire a dignity and luster. cannot be inherited. I see a U. If justice. which it has never yet enjoyed. honor." These are our blessings. We have relearned the things often forgotten. we also should look back – not to recreate some mythical time in our history – but to reaffirm what has enabled us to arrive where we are today and what has made us great. I also see a military that is in great transformation. and that America is not exempt from that danger. America is also in transition. A healthy society is made of people who care about its future… people who contribute to its development for the common good… people who reject the "don't care" culture. From where I stand. who're not always asking "what's in it for me"… people who are what I call "practicing citizens. our faiths and our freedoms. our citizenship. during times of peace and prosperity. it is not a birthright. As we look at ourselves post 9/11. that fade from our thoughts. Americans have focused on the things that matter most: our families. honor and gratitude of each subsequent.trust ever confided to a political society. Certainly. 2001. must be defended by the justice. relearn the moral truths and enduring principles from which our experiment in self-government was born. We are handed nothing less than an opportunity to recover those long-ago established purposes. which cannot but have the most favourable influence on the rights of Mankind. our self-government. .
canvass the neighborhood for a charity. I don't know if anyone could have more precisely focused on what it takes to realize the full sense of government by. only by "laboring in organization.Theodore Roosevelt spoke on this very theme during his "Citizenship in a Republic" remarks in 1910. To emphasize the point. . first in the ordinary. and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher. every-day affairs of life. or a thousand other details of your religious and civic life that can make our communities better." Speaking to his generation. work the school board committees. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. then." He continued. the average women. does his or her duty. he offered some direct criticism of those who won't get involved: "People who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high. or what he defined generally as politics. of and for the people: " …success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man. he said that freedom is worth having. safer and stronger. should we measure ourselves? Roosevelt's first answer is through involvement in the civic life of your community. that is in combination with our fellows who have the same interests and the same principles…" He had a rather low opinion of those who wouldn't get involved… those who – then and today -. "The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source. and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues. the right to self-government is attainable.claim there's not enough time to attend ward meetings." By what standard of good citizenship. and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation.
He dismisses those who avoid involvement. they can get along: They must remember that their country and their countrymen cannot get along. those who say the public discourse. even in the U. convictions. interests. Calvin Coolidge said much of the same thing. has become too coarse. It can't be done from the outside. cannot protect its citizens. whatever the result of the election. he returned it to the individual act of voting. renewing qualities of decency and decorum -. voter turn-out in the presidential election was 48. Self-government through the rule of the people depends on the ballot box: "The people of our country are sovereign. In . dreams. He said that the institutions of our country rest on faith in the people. when President Coolidge made those remarks." Then. unless those who have the right to vote do sustain and do guide the course of public affairs by thoughtful exercise of that right on election day. and if they fail to govern themselves some other power will rise up to govern them. cannot maintain its place in the world. political discourse.S. sounding very much like Roosevelt. he said. It is not a spectator sport. Specifically. Not a lot has changed. cannot remain sound. he returned the responsibility of self-government to the individual action. looking in. His answer was to put the excuse right back in their face: by getting involved. he added that those who don't vote have no right to say that. and they may be entirely sure that if they relinquish it other forces will seize it. The two are inseparable. Senate. If they do not vote they abdicate that sovereignty. those who claim it's demeaning to associate in the political arena. " The people of our country are sovereign…They have no right to say they do not care. indistinguishable. cannot preserve its institutions. He said that the right action of all of us is made up of the right action of each one of us.raise the standard of public. A few years later. As Roosevelt. citizens – expressing their beliefs." In 1924. in a different way. They must care!" And.9 percent.
serious.6 percent in 1972 to about 32. Guatemala and Switzerland to find countries with lower voter turn-out than the United States. of all ages. supporting. futile. Arguably. those 18 to 24 years. our next responsibility is to seek. status and disposition. He noted that we. institutions. create morality in our individual lives. cultivate. This foreigner saw something unique in Americans. he said. "Of all the disposition and habits which lead to political prosperity. In his farewell address. associations and at all levels of our government.4 percent.the 2000 presidential election.8 percent.9 percent in 1972 to 48. The percentage of registered 18 to 24 year old voters also has dropped from 58. Thomas Jefferson was very blunt.) If getting involved. What he saw in us was a culture quite different from others of his day. one of the greatest social observers of his day. All the rest of the world has a better record than we do." It's ironic that some of the most insightful examination of our founders' ideas about morality and how it is to be nurtured is provided by reading the observations of the French aristocrat. (According to latest data – 1996 election. religion and morality are indispensable supports. The youth vote has declined from 49." Nor was the significance of a moral citizenry lost on George Washington. very . we have to look to Colombia. Count Alexis de Tocqueville. his reports on America's culture and its impact on our political order is not matched by contemporary commentators. observing that the American people " …are inherently independent of all but the moral law. Your generation. Today. were forever forming associations of a thousand different kinds: religious. The founders' thinking was very clear on this point. voter turn-out was 51 percent. moral. seem to be voting in the same pattern as the rest of us. joining. voting are the first responsibility of citizens.
de Tocqueville saw that if Americans wanted something done or if they wanted to proclaim or further a belief. large and small. not economics that determines free society – has. and accomplish thousands and thousands of other large and small things. and – by the grace of God – America stands for all the best in mankind. In early 19th century America. not anything else made America truly the land of the free as did the simple acts of coming together. distribute books. And. Not economics. despots and devils pass. continued ever since. He observed that our involved discourse as citizens through our associations was indispensable.general. neighborhoods. was building a central culture. Most significantly he saw these associations as little schools of citizenship helping formulate democratic character. He observed that Americans. Most importantly he saw that what Americans were doing by meeting. very limited. He was one of the first to understand that it was this culture – rather than economics – which determined the success of freedom. were able to define and share a national character. That argument – that it's the prevalence of culture. throughout our world." These little platoons were the first link in the chain through which responsibility and duty were translated into love of country and of mankind. they formed an association to help them do it! These associations of free citizens were the engine of American freedom. The historical reality is that the parade of facists and fanatics. of course. not the law. He described these various associations as "little platoons. interacting with each other in voluntary association. . that all other forms of social and political progress depended on it. our nation. debating. supporting truth in any way they could find it. From our love and loyalty to the little platoon grows a sense of broader service to our families. he saw that what we do through our associations is real: we build churches. build hospitals and schools. local communities. feed the hungry.
by suggesting that they were actually partnerships -- not just between the living -- but between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are yet to come. It's difficult for me to express the sense of pride I experience, surrounded by young men and women who are taking a committed, deeply involved course with their lives; those citizens who've elected to serve their nation in uniform. I know, I see daily, that they – just as many of you – also are serving their communities, civic and religious organizations, schools and neighborhoods in ways that are not easily quantified, but which are essential to the success of self-governance, that connection of past, present and future. They have rejected the empty, soulless, small life of the uninvolved, passionless cynic. They dare to try. They step forward to serve. They -- just as you today – have the courage to care about things and examine ideas greater and bigger than their own self interest. Roosevelt's words about "Citizenship in a Republic," spoken, 96 years ago, have never better described those in our "little platoons": "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." The question for American citizens today is: How will we ensure our liberties and freedoms, how shall we preserve our great experiment? I can assure you that those who would destroy our moral culture and its
the churches. Note this well: During the entire time. apathy and self-interest. Our responsibility is to seek the truth and live the truth with our fellow citizens. generally. Our responsibility is to enter the fight. the social order would collapse. I'll close my remarks. specifically. and of Gramsci's theory about the significance of institutions in guiding culture. God-fearing nation. One of the best proofs of Tocqueville's theories about Americans. The responsibility of every citizen is to ensure that the voice of liberty and truth is always and consistently heard in legislatures. we should be neither . courts. but did little to prevent the regime from pursuing those same actions. German law forbade many of the actions of the Nazi regime. whose words are just as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago: "In facing the future and in striving. Our responsibility is to open people's eyes to the intellectual riches we've inherited. It grew through the slow. The Marxist philosopher. and in our homes. to work out the salvation of our land. wherever we can. universities. Antonio Gramsci who wrote in the 1930s in Spain.essential impact in our political order have thought a lot about it. gradual deterioration in the moral-cultural environment of a literate. law-abiding. when the citizens have abandoned them through neglect. churches. Germany's moral culture was transformed from one founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic to one in which there was relatively little resistance to all sorts of horrible things. to keep trying and trying again. He reasoned that once these non-economic institutions – the universities. again quoting Roosevelt. up to and including the extermination of entire categories of people. He's right. each according to the measure of his individual capacity. was proven between 1933 and 1939 in Germany. the press – had been captured. argued that the surest way to establish communist society was to capture the cultural institutions of civil society. Nazi Germany did not appear overnight.
but steadily fronting them should set to work to overcome and beat them down. May God bless America and those who ennoble the character of our nation. if only each will. perils springing from the greed of the unscrupulous rich. and from the anarchic violence of the thriftless and the turbulent poor. Grave perils are yet to be encountered in the stormy course of the Republic – perils from political corruption. but there is no reason why we should fear them or doubt our capacity to overcome them. ." It is so. according to the measure of his ability. May God grant us the courage to neither fear the struggle nor avoid our duty. perils from individual laziness. do his full duty. indolence and timidity. and endeavor so to live as to deserve the high praise of being called a good American citizen. There is every reason why we should recognize them.timid pessimists nor foolish optimists. We should recognize the dangers that exist and that threaten us: we should neither overestimate them nor shrink from them.
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