Traditions help form the structure and foundation of society, help define our past, shape us today, and provide ideas for our future. If we ignore traditions, America’s identity may be lost. Therefore, it’s worth exploring some recent books that highlight traditional American values.
For some, American patriotism—a traditional idea—has been put on the back burner. To educate young people about the values that make America great, Prager University has put out a new series of books to reawaken pride in our country. The series is “Otto’s Tales,” and the first book is “The National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance.”
Although advertised as a booklet for K–12, adults can also learn from it, as history has been neglected in curricula for decades.
The story opens with Otto the bulldog and his young friend Dennis dressed in red, white, and blue, watching a battle near Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. All during the night, the British bomb the fort, yet at dawn the American flag is still raised high. Francis Scott Key, who sees the battle unfold, writes a poem about this event, which later becomes the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Dennis and Otto next visit a school during the time when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, our 34th president who added the words “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. Eisenhower wanted Americans to remember that our rights ultimately come from God, not from the government.
This book definitely meets the need for entertaining, educational, and pro-American content.
‘Otto’s Tales: The National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance’
Independently published May 24, 2021
32 pages, paperback
Policing With Integrity
Many Americans understand that they cannot enjoy the benefits of living in America if they don’t feel safe expressing their views, conducting business, and just living their daily lives.
One positive book on the police is “I Hate Campaign Hats: Police Stories of a Young State Trooper Making His Way with Faith, Love, and Silly Humor.” Written by Massachusetts State Trooper Randall Stevens, it is the story of how a typical policeman helps the defenseless in small as well as big ways.
In one chapter, Stevens describes the experience of finding his first dead body. After determining that no crime was committed, he goes to great length to ensure that the body gets to the funeral home. He even finds a neighbor willing to board up the broken pane on the home’s rear door until the family can fix it properly.
Another chapter recounts how Stevens finds information that might tell him what happened to Magnolia, a horse that had died in a hit-and-run accident. Learning about the variety of skills that Stevens uses to investigate is enlightening and gives insight into his daily work.
Multiply Randall Stevens’s devotion to duty by the number of those police who think like him, and you have a powerful force for good.
Note: The title of the book refers to Stevens’s headgear, which is part of the uniform worn by state troopers.
‘I Hate Campaign Hats: Police Stories of a Young State Trooper Making His Way with Faith, Love, and Silly Humor’
Self-published Feb. 25, 2021
275 pages, paperback
Founding Father Defends Justice for All
“Equal Justice Under Law” is written above the main entrance of the Supreme Court Building in Washington. It is an American tradition that clear, consistent justice—especially when protecting the innocent—be applied equally to all individuals, no matter their race, creed, color, or politics. This societal ideal has influenced the American legal system from the beginning.
Lately, though, the country has been pushed farther and farther from this goal by what seems to be different standards for different citizens. Laws can no longer be deterrents if this policy continues.
In “John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial” by Dan Abrams and David Fisher, we meet John Adams, our second president, who believed that laws should be broad and apply to everyone.
On the night of March 5, 1770, shots were fired by British soldiers on the streets of Boston, killing five civilians. This has been referred to as the Boston Massacre. The question at the time was whether the British soldiers committed an unprovoked massacre of peaceful Boston citizens, or whether the soldiers were defending themselves from a mob.
Into this fray came John Adams, a 34-year-old Boston attorney who agreed to defend the British. Adams accepted the case because he was convinced that the soldiers were wrongly accused and had fired into the crowd in self-defense. Adams also believed that if the law was to gain a foothold in America, it had to serve in the most troublesome instances.
No transcript of the trial of Captain Thomas Preston, who led the British troops in Boston, has ever been found. However, there are extensive details in the book about the second trial, that of the soldiers under his command. Adams not only had the unenviable task of defending despised British soldiers, but he also had to be careful about how he portrayed the colonists who had gathered, acted out, and took an aggressive posture toward the soldiers.
“John Adams Under Fire” includes absorbing details about the court battle between the colonists and British as well as the added bonus that readers can see the emerging modern legal system. The book also covers the facts that led up to the trial, and Adams’s involvement in opposing British rule.
To Adams’s credit, most thought the British soldiers received a fair trial, despite the hatred directed toward them and their country. Adams wrote in his diary: “Judgement of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or witches, anciently. … As the evidence was, the verdict of the jury was exactly right.”
Today, criminal defense lawyers regularly cite John Adams’s defense of the British soldiers as an example of why they are morally obligated to represent certain unpopular clients.
This is the traditional American view. May it prevail.
‘John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial’
Dan Abrams and David Fisher
Hanover Square Press; March 3, 2020
320 pages, hardcover
Linda Wiegenfeld is a retired teacher. She can be reached for comments or suggestions at email@example.com