Character Building - Patriotism
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IT would be difficult to find anywhere clearer and better advice to a lad who will soon enter upon the privileges and Obligations of citizenship in the United States than is contained in the articles in the latter half of Volume VII of the Library. Three Presidents have there given him the benefit of their ripe experience, and, as if even that did not suffice to place the treatise upon the loftiest plane, to their wisdom has been added the counsel of two distinguished and greatly trusted leaders in the Christian church. This section justly follows that in which the principles of heroism have been inculcated by a variety of noble examples. Some of the most notable of these examples have been of men who have risked, or even deliberately sacrificed, their lives for their country.
But the burden of the teachings on patriotism, as on heroism, is that the idea has a wider meaning than merely fighting for the flag, necessary and admirable as that may be in its time. It means a constant, conscientious sense of duty toward the improvement of the country and all its citizens, in their government, their manhood, and their prosperity. It means that every man-and especially every young man-ought to inform him-self as well as possible upon the political needs and problems of the day, and then take an active part, through political processes and organizations, in establishing what he thinks right and profitable for the welfare of the whole people. No thoughtful parent will omit to urge this subject upon the attention of his sons; and it would be well if the articles mentioned above were read aloud and discussed, paragraph by paragraph. It is advisable also in this connection to read the biographies of such statesmen in Volume IX as Washington, Lincoln, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Webster, or any of the others in our "Soldiers and Statesmen" division. Of stories, we can recommend " Odysseus," "Theseus," "How Horatius Held the Bridge," "How Cincinnatus Saved Rome," "Beowulf," "Roland," and "William Tell" in Volume II. Boys will want to read the "Iliad" stories in Volume III. In Volume IV "Defending the Fort" should prove a fascinating tale for very young folks. Two divisions of Volume XI apply to the subject, "Country and Flag" and "Wars and Battles." Many fine poems for memorizing will be found therein.