By: Katie Hart Smith | Gwinnett Citizen
Published: 2016-07-16 14:27
Katie Hart Smith

When did you first learn about the spirit of citizenship and American patriotism? I would venture to say that you probably learned about it as a child from your parents, grandparents, or even in school.

The same was true for me. I learned about being a good citizen as a youth. I enjoyed hearing the stories about how our country was founded, about the independent spirit and foresight of our forefathers, and even loved participating in patriotic skits and activities at school. 

I formed a sense of national pride at an early age. It was something I owned, felt emotionally strong about, and connected to every time I placed my hand on my heart to say The Pledge of Allegiance in school or sang the “Star Spangled Banner” before a sporting event. I was taught that being a responsible citizen meant taking personal accountability, following the Golden Rule, speaking from a place of truth and honesty, being an active member in my community, being a good neighbor, and by being a “voice” and vote in elections. It was important to be an active not a passive participant because my actions would define who I was as a person, as a citizen, as an American.

Actions and choices define who you are. Actions and choices define who we are as a society. 

We are inundated with sensory overload from the plethora of television channels, radio stations, computers, laptops, mobile devices, and cell phones to electronic billboards that influence, point and direct your every move and decision. It’s time to stop, listen, and think. Ask yourself, “What am I doing to be a good American citizen? What am I role modeling for my children? My grandchildren? What do I want my neighborhood, county, state, and country to represent and stand for in this world? What am I going to do to help make this a better, cleaner, and safer place to live in ten years? In twenty years?”

Actions and choices will define our future. 

We have to ask ourselves what kind of characteristics do we want to develop and instill in ourselves and our children as American citizens today and in the future? We have been taught a myriad of lessons from history, but it is time to focus and set our sights forward.  As a country, “Where are we going?” What issues are important to us as a nation to propel us forward in economic growth, financial stability, education, self-sustaining resources, and in being a good world leader?

This 4th of July Holiday, be a great American and “ACT” = Appreciate. Care. Think.

I am proud to be an American, appreciative of the sacrifices that have been made by those who protect and defend our freedoms here and abroad. I care about those who have died serving this country so that we could be a free society. I think we owe it to ourselves and to the future of this country to be great, honorable, and respectable Americans. 

About Katie Hart Smith
Katie Hart Smith's column, “From the Heart,” touches the heart, inspires, and entertains.  Smith, a published author for over twenty years, believes that words, written or spoken, have power. To learn more, visit www.katiehartsmith.com