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Brynne Kuberski

Professor Kelleher

EN 102-019

11 February 2018

Reagan Patriotism Vanishing

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, will go down in history to be one

of the best Presidents our country has seen. President Reagan was a conservative Republican

who was heavily Patriotic and believed in small government involvement. In Ronald Reagans

1989 Farewell Address, the text that I have chosen to analyze, he warned us about how

Patriotism would be lost if we did not continue to teach our children what it meant to be an

American. To Reagan, being informed on our country’s history, was what it meant to be an

American. Reagan’s main goal was to inform Americans that everything he stood for will be

lost if “thoughtfulness and knowledge,” is not grounded in national patriotism. Although Ronald

Reagan warned us about the importance of patriotism, it is steadily declining in the United


Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address to the nation is the text I found worthy of analyzing

and that I felt summarized his honorable character. Reagan spent his eight years as President

primarily concentrating on putting America first and making sure Americans knew what it meant

to be a citizen of the United States. Reagan made sure people knew what it meant to be an

American by communicating that his generation was taught very precisely what it meant to be an

American (“National Pride”). Reagan also went on to say that “we absorbed, almost in the air, a

love of our country and an appreciation of its institutions.” (“National Pride”). I think this goes

along with his reasoning behind informed patriotism. An informed patriotism starts by teaching

in the history classes and at the dinner table. He wanted to make sure Americans understood

what our freedoms meant and who fought for those freedoms. Reagan mentioned in his Farewell

Address, “If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are.” We are forgetting who we are

(Ronald Reagan: “Farewell Address to the Nation- January 11,1989).

There is no denying that times have changed since Reagan’s 1989 address. Since Reagan

has left office, there have been terrible acts of terrorism like 9/11, mass shootings, ISIS threats,

and unfathomable deaths caused by actions of violence. It is a scary world out there, but does

that mean we should stop teaching the modern generation to be patriotic Americans? That is

exactly what is happening and precisely what Reagan did not want to happen. We can tell that

Reagan did not want this to happen because of his passion for this country.

Reagan mentions, “But now, we’re about to enter the nineties, and some things have

changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right

thing to teach modern children.” (“Farewell Address to the Nation”). Reagan was aware that

times were changing, but he still did not want that to be a reason that patriotism vanished. His

whole idea was that even in times of change and heartache, we should still remember that we are

one nation under God.

In a more modern world, important figures such as athletes in the NFL, are kneeling

when the National Anthem is being played. While Reagan justified that America was a place for

freedom of Speech, did he really mean kneeling for the song that is supposed to bring us

together? The NFL has made the choice to not broadcast the playing of the National Anthem.

Ever since the World Series of 1918, the National Anthem has been played at sporting events

without any disrespect to our flag (Andrews and Barbash). But unfortunately, in today’s lack of

patriotism and respect to the flag, we can no longer watch our nation’s song being played with

pride. Shirley and Ingraham from the Chicago Tribune support this idea by mentioning that even

with all the darkness taking over the world and people being pessimistic about their future,

Reagan’s beliefs are relevant today (Shirley and Ingraham).

Reagan’s ideas of freedom of speech, religion, and enterprise are not entirely lost.

Americans have peacefully protested their beliefs. Reagan was not meaning to say that we

should stop doing protesting, he just kept bringing back his idea of informed patriotism. Going

back to Reagan’s Farewell Address, he states that, “All great change in America begins at the

dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins.” (“Farewell Address to

the Nation”). Reagan wanted American families to begin teaching. He said that it would be a

“very American thing to do.” Informed patriotism to Reagan meant speaking of World War 1

and 2, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, our native Americans, D-day, or any other infamous

historical event. He figured that by starting with America’s roots, families would be able to teach

their children why we have the freedoms that other countries do not, why we have the 1st

amendment, and what that flag stands for. Reagan asked his fellow Americans to “start with the

basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.”

Essentially, Reagan’s whole Farewell Address was a warning to the people. He warned

us, but we sure did not get the message. In an article published by The Corner, Dan McLaughlin

suggests that the reason patriotism is declining is because of the right and left wing, Republicans

and Democrats. McLaughlin states that, “how did American split into two angry, insular, and

increasingly ignorant camps that hate each other.” (McLaughlin) Just recently, the Democrats

and Republicans could not even reach a decision on the national budget. These two parties are so

worried about hating each other, they are forgetting about the American people and their job to

protect us Americans. Lost patriotism that Reagan warned us about is effecting our politicians

and the government as a whole. There was a fight between the Democrats and Republicans to

agree on a spending bill, and if not the government would shut down. Once again, they were not

thinking of the American people and just wanted to put up a fight and prove a point. Reagan’s

stance on helping the American people would not support this.

Although Ronald Reagan warned us about the importance of patriotism, it is steadily

declining in the United States. According to Statista, the millennial generation went from being

80 percent patriotic, to 70 percent patriotic. The millennial generation was also the least patriotic

generation out of the Gen X, Baby Boomer, and silent generations. The reason I wrote about

Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address to the nation is because it is important that we be there for

each other. It is heartbreaking to know that parents refuse to take their children out to movies in

fear something bad will happen. It is in these times Reagan wanted Americans to fall back on our

foundations and acknowledge why we were allotted our great freedoms. The Great

Communicator himself at his second inaugural address once said, “our Nation is poised for

greatness. We must do what we know is right, and do it with all our might.” (“National Pride”).

So, my fellow Americans, why don’t we start by doing what we know is right. We need to start

with ourselves, teach ourselves informed patriotism, so that we can teach our loved ones, friends,

and future children a sense of informed patriotism.


Works Cited

Andrews, Travis M., and Fred Barbash. “A brief history of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' being

played at games and getting no respect.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Aug.

2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/08/30/a-brief-history-of-



Ingraham, Craig Shirley and Laura. “Ronald Reagan's words remain relevant

today.” Chicagotribune.com, 28 Oct. 2014,



“National Pride.” Wordpress,https://reaganquotes.wordpress.com/category/patriotism/

McLaughlin, Dan. “We Should Have Heeded This Warning From Ronald Reagan.” National

Review, 20 June 2017, www.nationalreview.com/corner/448791/ronald-reagan-warned-


Pew Research Center. "Would You Consider Yourself Very Patriotic?." Statista - The Statistics

Portal, Statista, www.statista.com/statistics/206696/patriotism-in-the-us-from-2003-to-

2011-by-generation/, Accessed 20 Apr 2018

“Ronald Reagan: Farewell Address to the Nation - January 11, 1989.” The American

Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29650.