Every day, in classrooms around the country, students start off their day by standing, placing their hands over their hearts and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. They may not understand why they do it, they may not even care about the words that they're saying, but they do it, mostly because that's what you do at the start of the school do.
According to the Official Texas GOP Platform, this a good thing. And I quote:
Students should pledge allegiance to the United States and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.
Maybe I'm just a bad citizen, but the Pledge never instilled much of anything in me. It was just another part of the day, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it beat that never got brought up when my parents asked me what I did at school that day. It was maybe the most unimportant thing I did in between getting picked up and dropped off at school.
And if that sounds terrible, ask yourself when the last time you said the Pledge in the comfort of your own home to an audience of no one. Yeah, exactly.
So if daily brainwashing isn't going to be the thing that instills our youth with warm and fuzzy feelings about the good 'ol USA of, what will? I'm glad you asked.5. Video Games
There's this whole idea of "fairness" in video games that seems really silly. I say forget that: any game where you get to choose one side to be American, that side should be noticeably better than the other. Tug of war? We should be better. American football? We should be magnitudes better. War? Not only should the Americans be better, but the rest of the world should be noticeably worse. When we put our minds to something, other countries should fear us, whether we do it in the real world or the digital one.
4. Patriotic Emoji
The USA is woefully underserved in this new, key form of communication. Other than the American flag and the Statue of Liberty, what is there for us to add to a drunk text message we send to a friend on July 4th that graphically shows just how great America is? There are no bald eagles, no White House, not even a Stealth Bomber or an Honest Abe emoji. I mean, if we're going to pretend that saying the pledge every day is what makes us proud to be an American, when we should be able to send a tiny photo of Mount Rushmore along with our "Happy Presidents Day!" mass texts.
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It's not that "The Star Spangled Banner" is a bad song, it's just that it's not a great anthem. Sure, we all get chills sometimes when a particular good singer/guitarist/French horn player nails "and the land of the free," but other than that it's just kind of a slog and doesn't really get the blood pumping. An anthem should be epic, it should make you want to tear down walls with your bare hands, kick a Hummer over, and knock back six beers without coming up for air. America deserves something a little more kick ass and little less dusty for its Olympic championship music, don't you think?
Here's a crazy idea: maybe if we do awesome things as America, people will be proud to be American, and then we won't have to worry about outdated rituals to instill patriotism in our kids. It's about time we stop resting on our past greatness and start making some of our own. Rather than argue about why Obamacare is or isn't the worst thing to ever happen, we work together to create a healthcare system that takes care of everyone the way the most powerful country in the world should be able to. Maybe we start making sure that all of our citizens, no matter what their background, have places to stay and things to eat. Maybe we make sure they everyone gets paid the same for an equal days work, have agency over their own bodies and be able to walk down the street without being physically or verbally harassed. Let's go explore Mars, and then further beyond that, and then further beyond that. That would be something to be proud of.
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Failing that...1. Just Have Them Watch Rocky IV, Independence Day and Mighty Ducks 2 Regularly
It's really not that much different than saying the pledge, and how can you not think America is just the best thing ever after watching any of these. Dare it say it, but if you don't love these movies, well... you may not be American at all.