What is patriotism? It’s love, devotion, and pride for one’s country. In some ways, we tend to be patriotic in similar ways–no matter which country we’re from. We display flags, sing anthems, and celebrate historical events. For me, patriotism is deeply rooted in what my parents and ancestors have taught me and the legacy they have left. Patriotism is so important to me that I want to instill in my children the blessings we have in the beautiful United States of America.
Especially during the July 4th festivities, when we attend parades, watch fireworks, and enjoy a variety of activities and festivities, I want my children to know WHY we do what we do. Perhaps you feel that way too. Whether you have children at home or are past that stage, you’ll benefit from brushing up on our nation’s profound history and doing a few, fun activities to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. But being patriotic isn’t just seasonal; we can work on it year-round.
To help all of us boost our patriotism for America, I’ve created this 30-Day Challenge. With it, there is also a free Facebook group if you’d like to participate with group members. Or you may do this at your own pace. Follow along in the order listed, or scramble and do in your own particular order.
Note: This article contains a few affiliate links in the last section. If you choose to purchase, I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you!
The Star-Spangled Banner, our flag. Made in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1813. Who made it? Not Betsy Ross, as many people think. The flagmaker was Mary Pickersgill. It features 15 stars and 15 stripes. Why not 13 for the original colonies? The answer is here. It is the same flag which was raised over Fort McHenry, and for which Francis Scott Key was inspired to write our national anthem. Where is it now? At the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Have you seen it? It’s quite an impressive sight! Much of it remains, though many people took snippets as souvenirs before it was thoughtfully and carefully preserved.
Is a Bald Eagle really bald? No, of course not. The name actually comes from an old English word piebald, which means white-headed, rather than bald. Now, that makes more sense! Right? As an iconic US symbol, chosen in 1782, the Bald Eagle represents courage and majesty to many. It also has a long life expectancy (about 30 years in the wild) and great strength (10 times that of a human grip).
The Liberty Bell
You’ll remember The Liberty Bell has a big crack in it. But do you remember anything else about this famous icon? It rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall. The bell’s inscription says, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). The bell symbolizes pride and helped our divided nation after the Civil War to remember that we had once fought united for a great cause–liberty. After 90 years of hard use, the bell developed a small split. Workers tried to repair it by widening the crack and drilling small holes. But the repair didn’t work. No one now living has ever heard it ring with its own clapper.
Why do we refer to the government as Uncle Sam? I love this story! In 1813, Sam Wilson, a meat packer from New York, delivered barrels of beef to the United States Army. in the War of 1812. He stamped the barrels U.S., of course meaning United States. But the grateful troops soon began referring to the meat as “Uncle Sam’s,” and a local newspaper picked up the story, which spread nationwide. Obviously, the nickname stuck. In the 1860s and 1870s a cartoonist popularized the image of Uncle Sam and others have continued to do so ever since.
Statue of Liberty
Dedicated on October 28, 1886, as a gift from France to celebrate our nation’s centennial independence, the Statue of Liberty remains a symbol of U.S. democracy. Lady Liberty, as we fondly call her, was no small task to build. It took tons of workers 7 days a week working 10-hour days 9 years to build! All 350 individual pieces of her were shipped in 214 crates to New York. The Statue of Liberty remains an icon welcoming all to our nation. Here are more fun facts if you want to share them with your kids or you just want a quick brush-up.
American Patriotic Songs
The Star-Spangled Banner
The lyrics were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. The tune is taken from a British drinking song and was later used for other writers’ patriotic lyrics as well. Key wrote the lyrics after witnessing Fort McHenry in Maryland being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812.
Consider reviewing at least the first verse.
O say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Can you imagine Key’s thrill when at daybreak he saw a lone US flag still flying, a proud emblem of courage? Take a brief moment to try to reflect upon the scene. How do the sentiments expressed in these lyrics apply to our country today?
America the Beautiful
When was the last time you sang this beautiful tribute? Many of us sing it annually. I teach piano lessons and have discovered that few of my students know it very well. They’ve heard it but don’t have the lyrics memorized at all. That’s a shame. Can you remember the first verse? Test your memory first, then check below:
God Bless America
Written by a Jewish immigrant, Irving Berlin, wrote this beloved patriotic song during World War I but it did not debut for 20 years. The title was a phrase his mother had oft repeated. When the song was finally introduced, public backlash was strong. Critics said he should not get to celebrate this country as his. As World War II approached, national acceptance of the song was finally embraced.
How many of the verses can you recite or sing? Click here to check them.
Battle Hymn of the Republic
This legendary Civil War song, written by Julia Ward Howe, came in a single burst of inspiration. When reviewing the lyrics, one quickly realizes the basis for them is the Bible. The Lord’s will is with the North: “trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” And there’s a poetic vision–and a hallelujah chorus–for a nation at eventual peace.
Patriotic American Facts
July 2 is the real Independence Day. What? Why do we celebrate on the 4th then? Read here. In a nutshell, we were declared free on the 2nd, but the Declaration of Independence wasn’t adopted by Congress until the 4th. Ah hah! Historians further believe it wasn’t even signed until later.
Pledge of Allegiance
Some say the original Pledge of Allegiance was drafted by editors of a magazine! Seriously? In 1892 they published it to promote nationalism and hopefully sell more flags and subscriptions. Another source mentions a minister and the same magazine. However, it started, the Pledge of Allegiance has undergone a few text revisions. And we now place our hand over our heart, thankfully, instead of saluting as was originally suggested. Though the salute was modeled after a classic Roman gesture, it was similar to what Hitler and Mussolini later adopted. Read more interesting information here about the history of the Pledge of Allegiance. And just for the record, make sure to help your children say and understand every word correctly. Indivisible sounds a lot like invisible, and its meaning may be off for some kids. Now’s the time to discuss.
13 Original Colonies
If you’re a US citizen, you studied the 13 colonies in grade school. So you know, in a nutshell, that 13 American colonies wanted freedom from Britain. You’ve likely even sung this song naming them. Without cheating, can you name the 13 original? Check your answers here. What were some of the freedoms the colonists were seeking? Religious freedom was certainly key. What else? Refresh your memory, if you need to, with this quick read.
“We the People” should know this vital document. Here it is, available online, along with the Bill of Rights. If you don’t already know the first paragraph, I challenge you to commit it to memory. Also, choose at least one article and one section to study for a few minutes today.
Short quiz: The US Constitution was written in the same Pennsylvania State House where the Declaration of Independence was signed. True or False? Of all the written national constitutions that exist, the US Constitution is the oldest and shortest. True or False? Check your answers here.
For many of us, showing the red, white, and blue is something we do for much of the summer, not just July. As such, I’ve gathered a few fun craft projects you might enjoy.
Tie-Dye Flag Shirt
My amazingly talented friend, Natalie, at Doodlecraft whipped up this shirt for her son. Click here for complete instructions for this one-of-a-kind patriotic shirt that will stand out from the crowd of Old Navy shirts. 🙂
God Bless America Free Printable
Patriotic Bandana Wreath
This looks like a craft anyone could be successful at! And it’s impressive looking! Buy some red-white-and-blue bandanas and get to work. Thanks to Brit at Real Hansen Home for showing us how this is done. Obviously, you’d hang it on a door or over a mantel, but I also think you could use it as a table center piece. Lay it flat and add something patriotic in the middle, perhaps a glass vase filled with red-white-and-blue candies. What are your ideas?
Party food makes parties all the more fun! Here’s a fun parfait you can make with brownies, whipped cream, and berries. The wow factor is simply awesome!
More Patriotic Food Ideas
Consider one of these per day during our challenge:
- Add a splash of sweet patriotism with this cute bouquet of suckers. Simply stick in a container and Voila! You look creative and you only spent 5 minutes putting it together. Love it!
- Yesss! Dipping ice-cream bars in red-white-and-blue sprinkles is a genius holiday hack! Assemble and serve while the crowd awaits. Easy!
- Patriotic Punch, please! I’ve always wanted to try this red-white-and-blue impressive-looking concoction. Maybe this will be the year! My boys would love it!
- Red licorice wrapped to look like firecrackers! Totally cute, easy–and in demand. Party guests will snap these right up.
- Firecracker hot dogs. These are clever! Who comes up with this stuff?
Showing Our Patriotism
How do we show our patriotism? Displaying the US flag properly is one way. Do you know how? It shouldn’t be displayed at nighttime unless there is a light upon it. That’s one rule. Can you name the others? Hint: there are 8. Check here to see if you are right. Our family is involved with Scouting, and our son has participated in many flag ceremonies. We’re happy to share these free, simple flag-ceremony cards that outline what to say.
It’s your right as a U.S. citizen. Not a registered voter? Take a few minutes and do so online. Click here to begin. Let your children see you vote. I often vote by mail-in ballot. During our recent primary election, however, I instead took my five-year-old son with me to the local precinct. I wanted him to see the process and know it’s important to vote. He was very impressed and talked about it for days. He even proudly wore his “I Voted” sticker.
Thank a veteran. Do this one year-round. Don’t know one? No problem. Adopt a charity that supports them. Here are 10 you might consider. Or this article shows 101 ways you can thank a veteran–starting with simple acts. You can also donate unused credit-card rewards. Find out more here.
Participate in Local Government
Learn about issues your community faces and stay informed about them. Is there something you can do to support local leaders? You might consider following your city’s page on social media. Or attend public meetings. Consider how else you might stay in the loop. Here are some additional ideas to help you with your civic duty.
Books and Articles about Patriotism
Seven Miracles That Saved America, (affiliate) by Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart is a patriotic look at our nation’s history in a way most of us have never fully understood. I highly recommend this book, own a copy, and have read it multiple times. For those of you who know me, though I’m a voracious reader, I rarely buy books, let alone read them several times. I have also referenced this book in a church talk and have recommended it many times. Why? Because the seven miracles described matter. We all need to know about them. So many close calls happened in the forming of our nation. We wouldn’t be here in a free country if things hadn’t happened just so. Be informed so you can be more patriotic.
10 Examples of Patriotism That Parents Should Teach Their Kids is an article I highly recommend reading. It brings up some great points that would make for an important family discussion. Talk this over and see which points everyone knows–and the ones they don’t.
The Pocket Book of Patriotism, (affiliate) by Jonathan Foreman. I just ordered this because it looks like a thorough, handy reference book. I want to be informed, and this looks to be the Cliff Notes version of our country’s history.
The True Meaning of Patriotism, an online article by Lawrence W. Reed, is a profound read. If you read nothing else suggested here, read his article. Most of us are pressed for time. Rest assured that this will only take a few moments to read. Buttttttt I hope you’ll take more than a few moments to boost your personal level of patriotism. See what I mean when you read his words.
Friends, This ends our 30-day Patriotic Challenge. What have you learned? What would you add? Please comment and share. I’d love to know.
If you liked this 30-day challenge, you may be interested in these as well. All are free, and you can access them at any time.