Welcome to the 60 Minutes /Vanity Fair Poll for June 2013. America has always been a dynamic country, but national events, government and social changes seem to be moving faster than ever. What does it mean to be a patriot or a citizen of the United States of America today?
The American Heritage dictionary defines patriot as: a person who loves, supports and defends his (or her) country. It defines citizen as: a person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a given state. In the first definition the key word is love, it's a feeling that is hard to put in to words but you know it when you feel it. The second definition is a little different. As a citizen you "owe" loyalty to your country and are entitled to certain rights in return. But with those rights come responsibilities, like supporting and defending your country. We should all strive to be, and teach our kids to be good, knowledgeable and active citizens.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is spearheading an effort to improve the less than stellar performance of our high school students in Civics and Government classes. Most generations of Americans were well-schooled in those classes but we've slipped some lately. It is one of the best ways to insure the continuation of what Jefferson deemed most essential for the preservation of a free society, a well-educated electorate. And now this month's poll results.
Seven out of 10 Americans would keep the Star Spangled Banner as our National Anthem. Twelve percent would switch to God Bless America which is often sung in addition to the anthem at baseball games. This Land is Your Land got four percent followed by America the Beautiful three percent, Born in the USA 3 percent, We Shall Overcome 2 percent and My Country 'Tis of Thee with 1 percent. Francis Scott Key wrote a poem about a battle he witnessed during the War of 1812. It was later made into a patriotic song. It didn't even become our National Anthem until more than 100 years later by a congressional resolution passed in 1931. On top of that it's hard to sing and it's not that great a song, but it's our song, and as our polling indicates, in America we love our traditions and they die hard.