In preparation for Flag Day

As you might recall, June 14th is National Flag Day in the US. It commemorates the day in 1777 when the flag was adopted by the US (of course the flag has changed over the years, but that’s what this is about). In preparation for the holiday, which will be observed at my daughter’s elementary school with a parade, she’s painted an image of the flag on a white t-shirt.

In her second grade class, she also read the following little booklet, titled "Our 50 States" in the Let’s Learn Mini-Books: Our Nation from Scholastic Professional Books. So let’s see what the book says, ok?

The United States is one of the largest countries in the world. It stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Fifty states belong to the United States.

Somewhat vague but understandable as the US is something like the third or fourth largest nation in the world. I wonder how it got so big? Anyway, next page?

All 50 states share one leader, the president of the United States. The president works for the good of all U.S. citizens. Each state has a leader as well. The leader of a state is called a governor.

OK, does anyone actually believe this? Maybe if you say this to little kids enough times it’ll get ingrained in their heads. I mean if you can teach them to eat Happy Meals, you can make ’em think almost anything, right?

For hundreds of years, people have come to the United
States from other lands. They have come to find freedom, work, and a
new way of life. Because America is home to people from all over the
world, some people call it a "melting pot."

something doesn’t quite seem right with this. Maybe it’s the millions
of people who were brought here and found work but not freedom. Maybe
it’s the other millions of people who were here before the place was
called the United States. What ever happened to those folks? No
worries. I would assume they just "melted" into the rest of the
population, right?

The United States is a country of
freedom. People who live in the United States are free to make their
own choices. They can choose their own homes and jobs and churches.
They can choose what to read, and they can say what they think and feel.

Sure. The folks working in Wal-Mart or picking cotton chose those jobs. Kids choose to live in poverty and attend substandard schools. There’s no accounting for taste I guess.

United States is a land of beauty. From snow-capped mountains to flat,
sandy beaches, the land varies across the country. Fields and forests
strech for miles. Canyons, valleys, and lakes can be found from the
East Coast to the West.

Yep, but I’d advise not waiting long to go and see those things. And now the last page:

across the United States, Americans work hard to keep our nation
strong. People use their skills to make planes and roadways. They
discover new medicines, build faster computers, and help the poor.

a strange juxtaposition! Is that really the motivation? To keep our
"nation strong"? Is that what the CEOs of multinational corporations
are doing when they seek to serve their stockholders? Is that what
employees of those corporations are asked to do? Is that what anyone is
thinking about when they are at work? And then this list: planes,
roadways, medicines, comptuers, and the poor. What can you say about
that? Just odd.

The whole booklet ends with a request for some feedback.

United States is a land of beauty, freedom, and opportunity. People
feel proud to say America is their home. Why do you feel proud to live
in the United States?

Gee… I’d have to say I’m proud because we’re a nation that values critical thinking so much.

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