Yesterday, a student came to school upset. He was questioning the election, struggling to come to terms with wars fought by Veterans, with protests and athletes who did not pledge allegiance to their country. After some conversation it became clear that he was really trying to define why he should be proud to be an American. This is what I told him.
We as Americans are not the sum of our leaders, our President or policy-makers, we are the guiding voice behind the leader. And real change does not come from tears and protest but from action. So today you need to find the truths, perhaps brought forth by candidates in our recent election, heroes, Veterans and role models, and meld those good ideals into your own personal mantra. This is mine:
I am not pro candidate,
I am pro student, youth and all who seek knowledge.
I am pro working families.
I am pro education.
I am pro freedom.
I am pro equality.
I am pro the values of love and kindness,
And the freedom to choose how I will use them.
I am pro America and pro all peaceful countries of the world, and I am proud to be an American regardless of what anyone says. Today, I stand with my fellow Americans, side by side, a nation of all races, colors and ideas. Today, I will work to make this country the best place it can be for myself my family my neighbor, even my enemy. And if I see something I don't like, I won't walk by but will change it peacefully.
We are the voice of the nation, the voice of future generations. We are the voice of yesterday, tomorrow and today! If we listen to each other we can build the brightest future, one we can be proud to say we had a hand making.
We are Americans.
We do not cry.
We dust ourselves off.
We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and we get busy.
All of our parents came here to start a new life, whether they came by ship, by plane or walked the Bering Straight. It is our job to make sure that life is inclusive of all people, an idea that is fundamental and written on the heart of every American yet challenged at every turn.
Ignite your passion let it burn! Build a country you that you can be proud of!
Today, put aside your arguments and stand up for your rights. Decide how you will make a difference then unite, and go after that change with a passion and integrity that is unparalleled!
I'd like to note at this time that the student I was working with is of color and at risk. Not that it should matter but it seems that today more than ever before students need to understand that they can use their words and ideas to effect change and make a better life for themselves and others in their country regardless of their race, sex or any other unique qualities they possess. I've helped this child and proudly watched him change from a person who used his fists to a young man who has found passion for activism reading about Rosa Parks, MLK and Harriet Tubman, who has seen dreams launch with Amelia Earhart and P.T. Barnum, who has fought in the Alamo. By empowering our students with a lust for history and showing them the successes and failures of others we can teach them to see trends in the world, we can show them there is value in acting-not just getting upset and raging, that they can band together to create real change.
Students today have more opportunity to be heard than ever before.
It is our duty as teachers, parents and people of all nations to let the voice of our youth be the "shot" heard 'round the world. After all, it is their world to inherit and at this tipping point of globalization, war and ecological change they have a right to speak and be heard. Be the teacher that facilities the change, you can do it! And who knows, the student you are teaching may in turn change the world for the better for all of us.
God bless you all
God bless America
Remember our Veterans today.