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Patriotism and National Identity

America’s patriotic assimilation system is broken

Earlier this week, the Hudson Institute released a new study by John Fonte and Althea Nagai looking at political and patriotic assimilation by naturalized citizens. Comparing the answers given in a survey by naturalized Americans with those of native-born citizens, Fonte and Nagai found that there exists a substantial gap between the two groups of citizens in their patriotic attachment and civic knowledge.

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Bumps along the path to citizenship

In this week’s edition of the Weekly Standard, Boston College professor and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Peter Skerry (who joined us last January at AEI to discuss “The Muslim-American Muddle”) takes a look at current proposals for immigration reform and a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants. His advice? “Republicans must keep their immigration proposals tough, fair, and simple.”

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Clinton Romesha awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

Yesterday, President Barack Obama awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Clinton Romesha, a 31-year-old retired staff sergeant in the US Army. In October 2009, Romesha helped to defend Combat Outpost Keating in northeast Afghanistan against an attack by more than 300 Taliban fighters. Before the somber ceremony began in the East Room of the White House, Romesha’s young son, Colin, provided pre-program entertainment for those in attendance.

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Counting on character

Last week, the AEI Program on American Citizenship published a case study by Daniel Lautzenheiser and Andrew P. Kelly that looked at the Democracy Prep Public Schools network in New York City. Today, we’d like to highlight the second study in the series that explores how top-performing charter schools have incorporated civic learning in their school curriculum and culture: “Counting on Character: National Heritage Academies and Civic Education.”

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President Obama’s Second Inaugural

Yesterday, President Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural address—and the nation’s 57th. While much has been written on the politics of the speech, there are also some good citizenship themes in it that are worth pointing out.

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Remembering a day of infamy

At 7:55 am on December 7, 1941, the Japanese began their attack on Pearl Harbor, killing 2,390 Americans over the course of the two-hour attack. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, declaring December 7 a “date which will live in infamy,” asked Congress to declare war on Japan. World War II had officially begun for the United States.

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Honoring our veterans

This Sunday, November 11, is Veterans Day. We as a nation commemorate the holiday every year on November 11, but how many of us know why we do? What makes Veterans Day different from Memorial Day? What does the holiday mean, and how do we properly observe it? What does it mean to honor the Veterans in our midst?

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Defending ROTC at Columbia

As the Washington Post reported this week, the number of college students across the country participating in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps has increased by 50 percent since the 2005–06 school year, with 36,474 students enrolled in the program this past school year. Indeed, during the 2011–12 school year, “the Army commissioned 5,880 officers and reservists, surpassing its goal of 5,350. That number is expected to increase in coming years as large incoming classes mature.”

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Post election analysis

We’ll leave the real post election analysis to the experts, but do want to point out just how incredible the act of voting is. Writing yesterday morning in The American after waiting in line in the cold to vote, AEI’s Michael R. Strain poses the excellent question: “What in the history of mankind would make you think that such a thing was possible?”

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Frederick Douglass on the importance of voting

Today, as voters across the country stand in long lines to perform their civic duty and cast their votes, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves of why voting should be so important to Americans. In 1865, Frederick Douglass addressed the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston and provided a robust defense of black Americans’ desire to vote. His words are worth reading again today.

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Learning in Mr. Clark’s class


Every year, students in Tom Clarke’s high school history class at Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana, embark upon a research project to track down the families of the state’s battle casualties and learn more about those who died in service to their country. And for each of the 27 years that the project has been assigned, both students and the families they interact with come away moved by the experience.

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Keep staring…

We have been keeping tabs on the return of ROTC to many Ivy League campuses this fall. Today, we bring you a recent column in the Yale Daily News written by Sam Cohen, a sophomore participating in the Navy ROTC program at the university, in which he reminds us of the benefits of having ROTC on campus, even for those who don’t directly participate in the program.

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What the troops leave unsaid: a growing civil-military divide

Over at the “At War” blog of The New York Times, Jonathan Raab, a sergeant in the New York National Guard currently serving in Kuwait, reminds us of the hardships many veterans face when they return home from war–and the responsibility we have to engage them in thoughtful conversation about their concerns.

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Brown University students call for ROTC

As we noted last week, Brown University, which is currently the only Ivy League institution that has yet to allow ROTC to return to its campus, is attempting to provide support to students who have served or are interested in serving in the military–without actually welcoming the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program to campus. Writing in response to the campus administration’s position, the editorial board at The Brown Daily Herald has called for a reinstatement of the ROTC program on campus.

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More on ROTC and the Ivies

Continuing our recent coverage of ROTC’s return to the Ivies, here are two more articles that discuss the trend.

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Active citizenship and the presidential race

Writing at The Huffington Post, Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning (CIRCLE), makes the case for presidential candidates and political pundits to take citizenship seriously.

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Blind Army captain serves Gonzaga’s ROTC


In April of 2005, while serving as an infantry officer, Army Captain Scott Smiley was injured when a car bomb exploded while he was patrolling the city of Mosul, Iraq. The blast left him temporarily paralyzed on his right side and permanently blind.

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ROTC returns to Harvard

On Monday, ROTC at Harvard University resumed its exercises on the Ivy’s campus–for the first time in 41 years. The Wall Street Journal reports: After decades of chilly relations between the elite school and the military, dating back to the Vietnam War and persisting because of past military policies on gay soldiers, Harvard has welcomed back […]

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Remembering 9/11

This morning, President Barack Obama and his wife laid a wreath at the Pentagon as part of an official observance remembering the events of September 11, 2011. The president also spoke to the families and friends of the victims, remarking that “eleven times we have marked another September 11th come and gone. Eleven times, we have paused in remembrance, in reflection, in unity and in purpose. This is never an easy day.  But it is especially difficult for all of you–the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives–your mothers and fathers, your husbands and wives, your sons and your daughters. They were taken from us suddenly and far too soon.”

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Are entitlements corrupting us?

Writing in The Wall Street Journal‘s “Saturday Essay,” AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt raises the question of what will happen to the American character as the United States increasingly becomes “a nation of takers.”

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