"'I pledge allegiance' means that we're promising to be loyal to something," Dad said. "In this case, to our flag - which symbolizes America and freedom. 'To the Republic' reminds us that our country is made up of people." Dad asked if I understood before he continued. "'One nation, under God, indivisible' means we are a united country and we aren't going to let anybody tear us apart. 'With liberty and justice' means we have rights and freedoms, and 'for all' means just that - it is for everyone." I said The Pledge a few more times and tried to soak it in. I stood up, faced the American flag, took off my cap, put my paw over my heart, and recited the words. I realized I was promising to be loyal to my country and do my best to be a good citizen.
I still wasn't 100% sure what being a good citizen really meant, but since the government gave me rights and freedoms, I had the duty to be the best citizen that I could be. Many people - such as our hard-working military - had sacrificed too much for me to take freedom for granted. I remembered in the back of my coloring book was a page that included five tips on being a good citizen - or member of our country.
I pulled out my coloring book and read the suggestions.
Show everyone you love your country. I definitely loved America and realized I could demonstrate that love by singing the national anthem, respecting the flag and the other symbols of this country.
Obey the rules of authority. I had just learned this lesson the hard way. "It means obeying the law, as well as the rules of your parents and teachers," Dad explained.
Help your community. Hmmmâ?¦ like giving to others, volunteering at places, like the humane society, and not littering.
Treat others with respect. "Remember Woody," Dad said. "We have to treat everyone with kindness no matter their age, their background, their size, or their color."
Work hard, pay taxes and vote! As a wiener dog, I was having trouble with this one. Dad explained that we must work to make money and help the country run. "Paying taxes is a law. Taxes help run the country. They help pay for roads, schools, libraries, and even humane societies. As far as voting, it is the process in which we elect our president, governor and other officials." "Will I ever vote?" I asked. "No, Woody. In order to vote, you must be 18 years old and a human! But even though you can't vote, you can be a good citizen by learning about the candidates and their beliefs."
I was thinking of other ways to be more civic-minded when dad told me to gather my things. He said he was taking mom, Chloe and me to a place that would surely help me understand the meaning of freedom and citizenship. I can't imagine where, but I can't wait to tell you about it. In the meantime, show your love to America; obey the laws and work and dream like a big dog!
Woody, a k a Mr. Dogwood
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