Palmes-Dennis: Instilling love of country to children

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- While I listened to the State of the Union address of US President Donald Trump this week, my tired mind and body was glued to the announcement that one of the guests of First Lady Melanie Trump was a 12-year-old boy named Preston Smart.

Clad in coat and tie was all smiles listening to the State of the Union. Preston Sharp is a native of Redding, California.

After noticing that the grave sites of fallen soldiers didn’t have American flags and or markers, Sharp organized the placement of more than 40,000 American flags and red carnations on these graves.

It was part of his goal to honor the veterans of all 50 US states and to challenge others to join the Flag and Flower challenge.

I tell you this because there is a valuable lesson to be learned about developing a strong sense of patriotism and civic duty among our children. I can imagine that maybe Sharp was brought to a cemetery by his parents and relatives.

I think that he saw a strong sense of love of country in them that touched his heart. Sharp may have felt the sense of loneliness felt by the families and relatives of those veterans.

In his young mind he thought that fallen heroes should be loved and respected. And it is his sense of civic duty that he learned from his home and further cemented in school that he began his Flag and Flower Challenge.

I honestly believe that love of country really starts at home. Parenting is already a huge responsibility yet educating our young in both home and school about this value, to obey laws and to respect elders and pay taxes is crucial to shaping good character.

Don’t get me wrong there are parents and guardians who had been doing this back in my country of birth the Philippines and it isn't as widely reported as it should be.

Thanks to Rod Stewart's version of the song Blue Moon, my mind wandered back to an interview I did with senatorial candidate Alex Lacson many summers ago. I believed he really deserved a seat in the Senate, perhaps even in Malacañang.

Lacson, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines who's born and raised in Kabanlakan town, Negros Occidental talked about his little book “12 Thinks Every Filipino Can do to Help Our Country: I am a Filipino.”
To him, the 12 things a Filipino should do are:

1. Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.
2. Whenver you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.
3. Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino
4. When you talk to others,especially foreigners, speak positively about us and our country.
5. Respect your traffic officer, policemen and soldier.
6. Do not litter. Dispose of your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
7. Support your church.
8. During election, do your solemn duty.
9. Pay your employees well
10. Pay your taxes
11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.

I sort of memorized these 12 rules and I was reminded of that interview when I heard the name of Preston Smart on TV days ago. Love of country, love of our fallen soldiers and heroes.

A minor throwback; I read the 12 things of Alex Lacson before I met him personally in a national paper back in the day and I sort of started following it by myself.

And now it touched a nerve again when I learned about Preston Smart and his Flags and Flowers Challenge for fallen veterans. They say that love of country can be felt by old people.

There is is no denying that I am going there or maybe I get touched when it comes to conversations about love of country.

What I would really hope for is for young Filipinos to start loving their country not only by passing their civics and culture subjects in school but about really living a life that reflects their love of country.

May we start instilling this love of country with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the Philippines. But I want these two organizations to really work on it and not just take photo ops with the politicians. How about it, Christian Palmes Mejorada?


Best wishes for the 11th wedding anniversary of my daughter Janice Palmes and Edgar Baisas who celebrated it with their daughter Arianne. May the good Lord shower abundant blessings to your marriage and family.

My thanks as well to my favorite OB Gyne in Cagayan de Oro, Caroline Orimaco. She is the training officer of OB-Gyne at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center. (For questions, comments please email to
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