Uniting the Country in Challenging Times

By Judge Michael Warren

We live in challenging times. With a 12-hour news cycle, the hashtag culture, pointed posts, treasonous tweets, poisonous videos, vitriolic political arguments, and the demise of shame, America appears to be unraveling at the seams.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Michael Warren

Oakland County Circuit Judge
Michael Warren

Indeed, there definitely appears to be a lessening of a common culture, the atomization of our place in our society, severe political polarization, and the fracturing of common beliefs.

Perhaps one of the least recognized, and commensurately one of the most important, causes of this dangerous state of affairs is the demise of our civic calendar. I struck upon this insight several years ago. Raised without a faith tradition, I became an adult convert to Catholicism. As a convert, I was required to learn about the liturgical calendar and the importance of annual holidays to renew the faith (such as Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas). All great religions have a liturgical calendar to halt the hustle and bustle of life and enable the faithful to renew their faith. They make us put first things first.

In a parallel fashion, America once had a vibrant civic calendar – Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Armistice Day – to renew our faith in America. They taught us the important things undergirding the United States — about courage, sacrifice, freedom, equality, and our Constitution.

This understanding was deeply embraced by the Founding Fathers. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that the anniversary of America’s independence would be marked with joyful celebrations. He was right. What is missing today is Adams’ conjoined expectation that “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized. . . ” Over time, the civic holidays were stripped of their meaning and commercialized, empty excuses for appliance sales and three day weekends.

I discussed this with my then 10-year-old daughter. Outraged, Leah pounded on the table and demanded we start a new celebration for America. Patriot Week was born.

With Patriot Week, we can remember what it is to be an American — what unites us — and what gives us common cause. These celebrations fight against the malaise affecting our country and the ignorance about what makes us free. They help heal our open wounds.

In particular, Patriot Week renews America’s spirit by celebrating the first principles, Founding Fathers and other patriots, vital documents, speeches and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Anchored by the key dates of the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17 (Constitution Day), Patriot Week develops themes and programming for each day during the week. Patriot Week has captured the imagination and support of citizens across the nation. This is bi-partisanship at its best.

This year’s Patriot Week celebrations involved an amazing array of events in several States, including a unique Law Enforcement Appreciation Through Prayer; school trips to courts; constitutional debates; concerts; a Patriot Festival; lesson plans; community college programs; Constitution dinners; Constitutional Scholars Speech Competition; and many others.

But this is not enough. Patriot Week is supported almost entirely by dedicated and very hardworking volunteers. We cannot continue or expand our effort without more volunteer help. With your aid, we can renew the spirit of America and save our common freedom. If we do not, our crisis will only deepen, and America may be lost forever. Make the difference — join us!

Michael Warren is an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge, co-Founder of Patriot Week, and author of America’s Survival Guide. For more information, visit www.PatriotWeek.org.

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