What South Korea can teach us about the importance of patriotism
Younger generations are not as patriotic as our parents and grandparents. Recent polls reveal that the percentage of Americans who are proud of their country has declined over the last several decades. Sadly, the fault does not lie with our children, but rather with their education.
The gradual adoption of critical race theory in our public schools and universities is one of the main drivers of that decline. The growing support of it over the years has led to a one-sided education that has taught our children many of our nation’s sins, but very few, if any, of its virtues. This miseducation has led to a generation that would not be able to pass the U.S. citizenship test. A recent national survey found that only 19% of Americans under the age of 45 could pass the citizenship test, compared to 74% of those 65 years old and older.
A descendant of American slaves and the son of parents who lived through the Jim Crow South, I am keenly aware of our nation’s past. But I’m also aware of how far we’ve come. Sadly, this holistic view of the country hasn’t been taught, leaving many of our children and grandchildren with bitter feelings toward our nation, as seen in the declining patriotism and pride. This resentment has also led to an uptick in a dangerous precedent that has seen a young Air National Guardsman post classified documents online and a Supreme Court decision leaked to the press before it was finalized and made public.
It’s clear our nation is at a crossroads, one with which I’m too familiar. As the 70th anniversary of the armistice of the Korean War approaches, I’m reminded of my time as a young artillery officer in the U.S. Army, through which I was stationed in South Korea supporting a tank battalion near the Demilitarized Zone in 1989. Fighting to defeat the threat of communism, America joined the Korean War in 1950, with 36,574 soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice to ensure peace in the region and for South Korea and its people.
In the last 70 years, South Korea has flourished; its national pride remains high, and its focus on hard work and family values has seen the country rise from abject poverty to prominence as a leader on the global stage. While the successes South Korea has experienced are a point of pride for its people, their education plays a role in their transformation as well. With one of the best education systems in the world, South Korea does not teach its history from a place of victimhood as the critical race theory viewpoint of American history suggests, but it focuses on balance as it provides perspectives of the good and bad, demonstrating the power and benefits of progress.
As my family and I celebrate the Fourth of July as proud Americans, we do so rooted in the experiences of history. The history of our family, our nation, and the price that’s been paid for our freedom and that of other nations. I know our friends in South Korea will be celebrating with us too.