A grassroots effort started nearly four years ago by local Legionnaires will now be taking root in West Virginia's schools.
The Frank B. Bartlett Post 7 of the American Legion thought it would be fitting if state schools were required to include lessons on Americanism and patriotism, saying much of what the country's veterans had fought for was being lost and forgotten. The resolution passed the state American Legion conference and was sent to the West Virginia Legislature for its approval.
The initial proposal from the state's Department of Education did not meet with much approval, so it was back to the drawing board. Local Americanism chairman Robert Post said the new deal went far beyond veterans' expectations. Beginning this year, those lessons will be taught as part of the social studies curriculum in all grades, kindergarten through high school senior.
Americanism chairman Robert Post, right, reads a resolution passed in 2009 by Buckhannon Post 7 of the American Legion calling for the teaching of patriotism as part of the curriculum in all West Virginia schools as post commander Les Shreve looks on. Beginning this year, all schools will be required to offer the lessons as part of the social studies classes. Members of the local Legion offered the DVD presentation to the Upshur County Commission on Thursday.
"We would like to remind people what Americanism is all about," Post 7 commander Les Shreve said. "It's a love of America a willingness to defend our country and our flag against all enemies. It's not just a word. It's a way of life."
Members of the local American Legion and its auxiliary made a presentation to the Upshur County Commission Thursday as part of that curriculum. A 13-minute DVD, written by best-selling author and Buckhannon native Stephen Coonts, told of the struggle of the country's earliest patriots in their uprising against British tyranny.
Post said the lessons also call for veterans to offer their thoughts of what patriotism means to them. Those veterans will tell stories of their ordeals from as long ago as World War II to the current day fighting in the Middle East.
But patriotism and the love of America isn't only relegated to the country's military veterans, Shreve said. He said first responders, elected officials and community leaders should also be thanked for what they do.
"We as veterans are constantly being thanked for our service," Shreve said. "It does give you a warm and fuzzy feeling to be recognized. But it requires much more than military service to preserve the rights and freedoms."