For Family and Country

Published: January 29, 2024

By Jim Lichtman
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Rain Delay. Hope to be back soon.

An early, very early commentary of mine.

(The original title of this piece was, It’s Citizenship, Stupid! But Sister Mary Aloysius would never allow me to suggest anyone was stupid.)

In 2017, President Donald Trump was on his way from the White House to Texas when he told a reporters this:

I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don’t understand. I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. . . . I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.”

That was Donald Trump 1.0

This is Trump 80.9, and climbing, from last November:

“We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

John Wayne must’ve been looking down on the former president when he meant, “A big mouth don’t make a big man.”

Trump—and sadly, many of his fans—are setting a new low for incivility.

Shocking? Not in the Trump-o-sphere. In fact, it appears to be a badge of honor for some of his staunched supporters.

Today, there is a great lack of civicus—familiarly known as civics. “the term relates to behavior affecting other citizens,” Wikipedia, an online source, writes.

While Civics or Social Studies are taught in most schools nationwide, many focus on their rights and forget the duties required of a good citizen.

Sorting through my dad’s papers after his death last August, I came across an essay I had written—with considerable help from my mother—on the importance of citizenship. I have a vague memory of this essay. It may have been written in the 4th or 5th grade; I’m not sure. I just remember that writing 1 ½ pages was the longest piece I had ever written, and my mother required a lot of research on my part.

The teacher seemed to give us the title, How I Can Prepare Myself to Become a Good Citizen. A little rough around the edges, it makes some good points.

“The word citizen means member or citizen of a city. A person who holds a legal position of citizenship is called a citizen. I am a citizen of the United States. I am very proud to be one.

“To be a good member of any organization or country, you must obey the rules and laws laid down by that organization or country. School helps me to learn about the history of my country. It also helps me to get along with other people. It helps me to enjoy life so I may be a happy member of my community. Learning is one of the most important ways of preparing yourself to be a good citizen.

“To be a good citizen, you must start in your own home. Your mother and father try to guide you to do the right things, listening to them and obeying the rules they set down. This also helps you be a good member of your community. Joining clubs and taking part in team play, also helps me in getting myself ready for my part in life as a citizen of the United States of America.

“In our clubs, we elect officers and try to set rules for the club members, and we also pay dues. This is a reminder to grown-up citizens. My parents must obey the rules of the government and pay taxes to live in safety here. All their activities help me to grow up mentally and physically and to be a better person for myself, for my family, and for my country.”

“This country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations,” President Obama said in a speech in November 2012, “The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.”

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