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\”Citizenship\” – Word of the Week

Definition of the word of the week (CITIZENSHIP): The status of a citizen with its attendant duties, rights, and privileges.

This week, America celebrates Constitution Week in recognition of our most significant founding document. A citizen is a person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation. And, citizenship is the status of a citizen with its attendant duties, rights, and privileges. I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who demand their rights but appear unwilling to fulfill their duties. One such duty is voting. I believe voting to be a moral mandate and encourage everyone of legal age to register and, for our nation’s sake, to vote.

It also amazes me how many Americans are ignorant about our country. Most of us know the names of the President and Vice-President. We know that the Vice President is the first person who would serve as President if the President were to become incapacitated. However, how many of us know the next person in line? Not only do we not know his name, most of us do not even know the position. After the Vice President, the next person in order of accession is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert.

How much do we know about our flag? From 1795 to 1818, our nation’s flag looked very different from today’s flag. In addition to fewer stars, what else was different? Back then, they added a star and a stripe when a new state joined the union. It was not until 1818 that the law was changed to have only 13 stripes representing the original colonies and one star for each state in the Union.

How many of us know The American’s Creed? As an American, you should know it and, more importantly, believe it and support it. The creed states, “I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people, by the people; for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic, a sovereign nation of many sovereign States, a perfect union, one and inseparable, established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my County to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its Flag; and to defend it against all enemies.”

As the famous politician William Jennings Bryan observed, “The humblest citizen in all the land when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of Error.” As citizens of the greatest nation in the history of the world, how could we not know our heritage?

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship. Ralph Nader

Every good citizen makes his country’s honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it. Andrew Jackson, President

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. Dwight Eisenhower, President

Wherever the citizen becomes indifferent to his fellows, so will the husband be to his wife, and the father of a family toward the members of his household. Karl Von Humbolt, German statesman

It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling in error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error. Robert Jackson, Supreme Court justice

I am not an Athenian, nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world. Socrates

The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight. Theodore Roosevelt, President

Certainly one of the highest duties of the citizen is a scrupulous obedience to the laws of the nation. But, it is not the highest duty. Thomas Jefferson, President

Every citizen should be a solder. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state. Thomas Jefferson, President

The humblest citizen in all the land when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of Error. Williams Jennings Bryan, Politician

LTC Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone, 478-445-2710 or by email, pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us