<< Restoring Civic Attachment In Our Young People


Friday, April 22nd, 2011

American life requires citizens who know who they are as Americans, who are knowledgably attached to their country and communities, and who possess the character—the attitudes, sensibilities, and virtues—necessary for robust civic participation. What So Proudly We Hail: Stories for Every American—an anthology edited by Leon R. Kass (AEI), Amy A. Kass (Hudson Institute), and Diana Schaub (Loyola University Maryland); ISI Books, Spring 2011— seeks to help form such citizens, using the soul-shaping possibilities of American short stories, political speeches, and patriotic songs.

Unlike other efforts to improve civic literacy and civic virtue, this approach assumes that developing robust American citizens is a matter of the heart as well as the mind, and requires more than approving our lofty principles or knowing our history and institutions. Like building character generally, making citizens requires educating the moral imagination and sentiments, and developing fitting habits of the heart—matters both displayed in and nurtured by our great works of imaginative literature and rhetoric. The readings collected in this anthology shed light on our civic character and ways, encourage thoughtful patriotic attachment, and elicit timeless aspirations for civic improvement—always with an eye on our founding commitment to freedom and equality.


Diana Schaub, “Monumental Battles: Why we build memorials,” Weekly Standard, May 28, 2012. Editor Diana Schaub discusses the human impulse toward memorialization, using Frederick Douglass and the Lincoln Memorial as guides.

Leon R. Kass, “The Significance of Veterans Day,” Weekly Standard, November 11, 2011. What exactly do we celebrate on Veterans Day? To be sure, we mean to honor the brave men and women, living and dead, who have fought America’s battles, past and present. But honor them how, and for what? About these matters, we lack a clear national answer.

Leon R. Kass, “What Silent Cal said about the Fourth of July,” Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2011. Leon Kass, the Madden-Jewett Chair at AEI and co-editor of What So Proudly We Hail, discusses the insights provided by Calvin Coolidge’s remarkable Address on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass, “Take Time to Remember,Weekly Standard, May 29, 2011. American identity, character, and civic life are shaped by many things, but decisive among them are our national memories—of our long history, our triumphs and tragedies, our national aspirations and achievements. Crucial to the national memory are the words our forebears wrote, to show us who we are and what we might yet become. Robust citizenship is impossible without national attachment. National attachment is thin at best without national memory. And national memory depends on story, speech, and song.


“First Among Equals: George Washington and the American Presidency,” February 17, 2012. This event will open with a reading of portions of George Washington’s Farewell Address, a selection from the anthology. A distinguished panel will then discuss Washington’s exemplary founding presidency, its lessons for the modern presidency (as well as for today’s aspiring presidential candidates), and the importance of preserving and perpetuating our political institutions.

Why Memorial Day?” A Book Forum with Senator John McCain, May 25, 2011. Several selections in the anthology deal with the importance of civic holidays for the perpetuation of our institutions and the attachment of our citizens. This forum will introduce the book with a discussion of the meaning and importance of Memorial Day, a holiday first instituted to honor those who died in the Civil War defending the Union.

The point of departure for our discussion will be a reading of “In Our Youth Our Hearts Were Touched with Fire,” by Civil War veteran and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., delivered as a defense of Memorial Day on May 30, 1884. Panelists will then discuss the speech and the meaning of Memorial Day today.

The 2011 Bradley Symposium: “True Americanism”: What It Is and Why It Matters, May 11, 2011. Using the soul-shaping possibilities of American short stories, political speeches, and songs, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song addresses issues of national identity, the American character, the virtues and aspirations of civic life, and the problem of making a national one out of the multicultural many. The chapter devoted to the last subject contains a moving speech by Theodore Roosevelt, which powerfully argues that all new immigrants must be assimilated into the idea and practice of “True Americanism.” This symposium will revisit Theodore Roosevelt’s speech and the issues it raises. What, if anything, defines “True Americanism” today? Why and for what purposes does it matter?

The 2011 Bradley Symposium, hosted by Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal and National Affairs, will feature a discussion among prominant political figures and scholars, led by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Amy Kass and AEI Madden-Jewett Scholar Leon Kass. Register at the Hudson Institute.