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CITIZENSHIP

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

The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, wrote, “What the statesman is most anxious to produce is a certain moral character in his fellow citizens, namely a disposition to virtue and the performance of virtuous actions.” That being the case, our state service cadets are demonstrating outstanding moral character. Everyday, they are performing virtuous actions by taking care of their fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast area.

Like all Americans, I was both shocked and dismayed with the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and deeply disappointed with the lethargic, bureaucratic response to the disaster. Government and agency leaders at the city, parish, state and federal levels failed in their duty to protect their American citizens. The result was a needless loss of life. Not surprisingly, it is small groups of churches and civic organizations and even individual citizens that are making a significant difference in helping survivors piece together their lives.

I am especially proud of Georgia Military College’s state service cadets who were activated to help with the disaster relief. Some of these students have already served a tour in Iraq and still they willingly serve their country, state and their fellow citizens. Given the level of devastation, it is not likely that the activated cadets will return for several weeks which means that they will not be able to attend classes this fall. When they call us with the news of their deployment, we tell them that we are proud of them and that they are doing God’s work. They pledge to help as many people as they possibly can.

These men and women are truly great Americans and are choosing to make a difference. Our cadets are saving the lives of fellow Americans and helping them rebuild their lives. I am so very proud of them. As the noted anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Let’s all pitch in to help!

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

Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigour of commerce as it is to the health and vigour of citizenship. Patrick Henry, Founding Father

There is nothing wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure. Dwight D. Eisenhower, President

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

If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. Abraham Lincoln, President

Every good citizen makes his country’s honour his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. Andrew Jackson, President

The State must follow, and not lead, the character and progress of the citizen. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet

The measure of quality as a public person, as a citizen, is the gap between what you do and what you say. Ramsey Clark

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

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

COL 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 at 478-445-2710 or by email at pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us.