February 22, 2020
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Here’s how to grow a generation of gratitude

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Olivia Robbins carries a large American flag while leading her Girl Scout troop as they march in Veterans Day parade event honoring Mainers who served in the military in Portland in this Nov. 11, 2019, file photo.

​My family talks about current events at the dinner table. My father mentioned a recent survey that showed the younger you are, the less likely you are to say that patriotism is very important. When Americans over 55 are asked, about 80 percent say that patriotism is important. But for those under 38, the number drops to 42 percent.

​For kids my age, the response would probably be “huh?” I am 12. Most students in my seventh-grade class don’t know much about patriotism, but we all show respect for the flag at school assemblies.

​We do know, however, how divided the country is these days, because of the way adults communicate with each other.

​I spent some time on the internet seeing how the United States compares to other countries on important issues. For prosperity, the U.S. ranks 18th out of 149 countries. For security, we rank 65th out of 128 countries — a ranking that is hurt by the number of shootings. For education, U.S. high school students rank 38th out of 71 countries in math. For health, the U.S. ranks 35th out of 169 countries. When citizens discuss how happy they are, the U.S. ranks 19th out of 156 countries.

​We have a way to go on many important issues. So maybe we should get back to working together to make progress, rather than screaming at each other and rolling our eyes.

​Most kids my age can name more TikTok stars than members of the Supreme Court or Senate. When our class took the civics test that is given to immigrants, half of the class thought it was a joke and the other half just didn’t know the answers.

​I don’t know anyone my age who reads the newspaper. But for people who are reading this, I have three suggestions for things you can do with your children and grandchildren to grow a “Generation Gratitude.”

​First, without waiting all year for the next holiday season, buy the kids an American flag and talk about what it means to you and your family. Second, give your children and grandchildren the civics test that immigrants must take. It’s easily available online. Make sure that they know enough about our country and our government to be able to pass.

​And, third, talk to the kids about state and local elections, whom you support, and why. In the Kentucky governor’s in November, state officials expected 31 percent of eligible voters to vote. Turnout was better, but well over half of voters didn’t bother to vote. If you make voting a family topic, maybe it will influence the next generations to show up.

​These three simple steps might lead to a happier and more patriotic new year for future generations.

Rangeley Newmyer is a seventh-grader from Rangeley.

 


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