By Hon. Michael Warren
In this age of poisonous political partisanship, it seems that we are forgetting what unites as Americans. Each day the news and social media is filled with everything that divides us. There used to be a time when we could agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural explained that “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” Today, however, we have forgotten the uniting principles. Every difference in opinion just becomes another personal attack.
There are many, many reasons why we are in the perilous situation. One mostly overlooked reason is the demise of the civic calendar. Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Armistice Day gave us time to pause and remember what made America America.
John Adams, for example, wrote to his wife Abigail that Independence Day would always be celebrated with fireworks, parades, and pomp – and he was right – but he also thought it should be a solemn day of devotion recognizing the blessings of liberty. He understood that we need take time from the hustle and bustle of our lives to keep the spirit of liberty alive. We still have the fireworks, but hardly any devotion. Our civic calendar has lost its real meaning (mostly our holidays are an excuse for a barbecue and carpet sales, and we now celebrate Franklin Pierce with the same vigor as Lincoln on Presidents’ Day). This state of affairs undermines our ability to survive as a free republic.
Patriot Week is one powerful way to combat this crisis. The idea behind Patriot Week is to set aside a 7 day period, beginning on September 11 and ending September 17 (Constitution Day – the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution – in which all schools receiving federal funds must teach about the Constitution) in which citizens of all ages and stripes, educators, and students take a few minutes from each day to celebrate a founding First Principle from our Declaration of Independence; a Founding Father or other great Patriot who embodies that First Principle; a historical document that embodies the First Principle; and one of the flags from our history that reflects those ideals.
For example, one day is dedicated to the First Principle of Unalienable Rights. On that day we also commemorate Thomas Jefferson, the Bill of Rights, and the Gadsden (Don’t Tread on Me) Flag. As another example, we also celebrate the First Principle of Racial Equality; Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr; the Gettysburg Address, the I Have a Dream Speech and the Emancipation Proclamation; and the flag flew over Fort Sumter. Another day we celebrate the First Principle of the Rule of Law; John Marshall; Marbury v Madison; and the original USA flag. On the last day we celebrate limited government; James Madison; the 9th and 10th Amendments; and state and local flags (in connection with federalism).
Leah (my then 10 year old (now 19) daughter) was instrumental in brainstorming and promoting this idea. It was created when – as a 10 year old – she pounded on the table and demanded a new celebration of America. In fact, she is so vital that she has equal billing as a creator of the project.
I admit we received my inspiration in part from Kwanzaa – the reality that is a professor in California invented the holiday in the 1960s and now hundreds of thousands (if not millions) celebrate it. I figure that means a principled judge and his daughter in Michigan can initiate Patriot Week.
Patriot Week has been recognized by over 10 states, and several counties and cities. Our 501(c)(3) approved nonprofit has broad nonpartisan governing and advisory committees composed of political, education, business, nonprofit, and religious leaders. This is 100% nonpartisan.
The idea is to provide a general overall objective, and to allow the grassroots folks to take it over and implement it. Starting relatively modestly in 2009, the effort has exploded. Past participants have included traditional school districts, charter schools, private schools, and home schools; law schools; colleges and universities; rotaries; libraries; bar associations; law firms; businesses; and many others. We have held a Patriot Palooza! at Detroit’s Historic Fort Wayne; a conference and dinner in New Hampshire; a movie premier to benefit our combat troops overseas; Patriot Festivals; a Patriot Parade; and any many other activities. Each participant engages in a grassroots fashion that works best for them. We have had participants in over a dozen states. We are working to have Patriot Week be recognized in all 50 states, and make steady progress.
In any event, we would love for you and any organizations you are involved with to become engaged in Patriot Week. As a grassroots effort, we are dependent, and welcome, individuals from all walks of life and skill sets to help.
You can visit our website at www.PatriotWeek.org and reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you care about the survival of the republic, reach out. The alternative is too terrible to imagine.
Hon. Michael Warren has served on the Oakland County Circuit Court since his appointment by Governor John Engler in 2002. A former member of the State Board of Education, he has written and spoken extensively on American history, civics, education, constitutional law and other legal matters, including his book, America’s Survival Guide, How to Stop America’s Impending Suicide by Reclaiming Our First Principles and History (www.AmericasSurvivalGuide.com). He also serves as the Education Chair for Cornerstone Education Group.
He and his then 10 year old daughter Leah co-founded Patriot Week in 2009 (www.PatriotWeek.org). Patriot Week renews America’s spirit by deepening the appreciation of the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Many of our current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit. Anchored by the key dates of September 11 (the anniversary of the terrorists attacks) and September 17 (Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers), the Schedule for each day has a separate focus.
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