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Patriotism and National Identity

Mid-week roundup

What’s happening in the citizenship world? Here’s our mid-week roundup:

  • World War II veteran Raymond Smith, age 92, finally received his high school diploma
  •  Last week, the United States military reached 2,000 dead in the Afghanistan conflict.
  •  In July, Gary Gutting, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, posed the question: Is patriotism moral?
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    Remembering Neil Armstrong

    Over the weekend, Neil Armstrong, the first human to step foot on the Moon, died at age 82. In reading remembrances of the astronaut, one theme that stands out through nearly all of them is how admired Armstrong was for his honest and good citizenship. Here are some excerpts from different accounts

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    Scared straight into the voting booth

    Over at The New York Times‘s “Campaign Stops” blog, Ann Beeson, a lecturer at the University of Texas and former legal director of the ACLU, notices that many young people are very involved in different civic organizations, but that few of them actually vote.

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    No such thing as global citizenship

    Eric Liu has an essay in The Atlantic in which he takes on the question of what “global citizenship” actually means. His answer? There isn’t such a thing as worldwide citizenship–and ”if you really want to change the world, first be a good American.”

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    Understanding the “veteran vote”

    Writing last week for The Huffington Post, Jason Dempsey, a career infantry officer in the U.S. Army and author of Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relationstakes a look at just what constitutes the “veteran vote”–and whether there really is such a thing.

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    “We like to leave that situation better than we we got there…”

    Writing earlier this week in the U-T San Diego newspaper, Lisa Deaderick profiles the journey of an inspiring Marine at the University of San Diego. Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Adibe enlisted in the Marine Corps in June of 2001 out of a desire to serve his country, and he saw the Marines as a group that can make a difference: “When we go into a situation, we like to leave that situation better than we we got there.” After serving as a logistician in the Marines–where he has been deployed to both Indonesia and Afghanistan—in 2009, as part of the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, Adibe started attending the University of San Diego, where he participates in ROTC.

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    Learning to be an American

    Over at National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke, a “British subject living in America,” takes a look at what it means to be an American. Expanding on Ronald Reagan’s famous quote that “you can go to live in Turkey but you can’t become a Turk. You can’t go to live in Japan and become Japanese. But…anyone from any corner of the world can come to America and be an American,” Cooke explores what it is–beyond having the right papers and simply being in America–that makes one an American.

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    Olympic citizenship

    With the Olympic Games now in full swing, The New York Times has posed a great question about the role of citizenship and the Olympics: “Are we allowing too many athletes to game the citizenship requirement in order to play in the Olympics?”

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    No more urban officers?

    Drawing on Cheryl Miller’s 2011 report “Underserved: A Case Study of ROTC in New York City,” Colin Daileda takes a look in The Atlantic at the hurdles ROTC cadets in the nation’s largest city must face to participate in the officer training program.

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    About Walter Berns

    A scholar of political philosophy and constitutional law, Walter Berns has written extensively on American government and politics in both professional and popular journals. He is the John M. Olin University Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University and served as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He has also taught at Louisiana State University, Yale University, Cornell University, Colgate University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Chicago. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in political science at the University of Chicago and has published many works on American government and society. His articles have also appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Commentary, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Berns served on the National Council on the Humanities from 1982 to 1988 and the Council of Scholars in the Library of Congress from 1981 to 1985. He was also a delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2005.

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    Celebrating new citizens on July 4

    As Americans return to work after a weekend of July 4 celebrations and fireworks, it’s a good time to remember the freedoms that we celebrate on Independence Day–and a good way to do this is to look at some stories of immigrants who recently became American citizens.

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    Celebrating the Fourth of July

    As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day  tomorrow, check out this great video that AEI videographer Sara Barger made to celebrate last year’s Fourth, in which she headed to the National Mall to find out how Americans are celebrating the holiday and why they are proud to be an American.

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    Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional

    In addition to releasing its opinion on the Affordable Health Care Act yesterday, the Supreme Court also issued its decision in United States v. Alvarez, deciding that the Stolen Valor Act violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.

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    Mandatory voting?

    Writing last week in Bloomberg, Peter Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration, argues that voting should be made mandatory. Using Australia as an example of a country where compulsory voting already exists, Orszag notes: “Mandating voting has a clear effect: It raises participation rates.” The United States currently has voter participation below 60 percent.

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    It worked for me

    In Colin Powell’s most recent book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, published last month, the retired four-star general, secretary of state, and national security advisor shares stories about his life and provides his thirteen rules to live by.

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    Veterans on Wall Street

    The New York Times recently reported on a small brokerage firm, Drexel Hamilton, that reaches out to and trains military veterans for jobs in the financial sector. As we’ve noted before, the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than the national average–and for veterans ages 24 and under, the unemployment rate is about 12% higher than that of their peers (29.1% compared to 17.6%). Drexel Hamilton is trying to change this.

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    The hard path to citizenship

    Writing in Time Magazine, Nate Rawlings reacts to President Obama’s recent order to Homeland Security to stop deporting young undocumented immigrants. Rawlings, a retired U.S. Army officer, notes that the recent executive order allows immigrants under 30 to stay and work in America, but it doesn’t give them a Green Card, which is necessary for immigrants to join the military or become citizens. He writes: “I would make one big exception to that rule for any of those immigrants who join the military. Anyone who’s willing to take the oath of enlistment deserves a shot at citizenship.”

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    In search of a common cause

    Over at Time, Joe Klein reports on the people he has met and spoken with on his recent third-annual U.S. road trip. Many of these people are military veterans who expressed to Klein their increasing concern that a gap between those who have served the country and those who haven’t is widening, and that as a result the country itself is becoming more bifurcated.

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    America’s problem of assimilation

    Writing in the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas, Bruce Thornton looks at the American “melting pot” and “salad bowl” metaphors of immigrant assimilation–the former referring to a “fusing process” that, according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “transforms the English, the German, the Irish emigrant into an American,” and the latter referring to a mix of different ethnic groups that, instead of assimilating, would “coexist in their separate identities like the ingredients in a salad, bound together only by the ‘dressing’ of law and the market.”

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    Baltimore’s Operation Oliver

    In Baltimore, a group of military veterans have banded together to clean up and revitalize a neighborhood that has often been run by drug dealers and has slipped into urban blight. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, many of these veterans have returned to civilian life from their time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now searching for a way to, as one retired Marine Corps sergeant put it, “feel useful again.”

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