Scouting/BSA/Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge
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"Explain what citizenship in the nation means and what it takes to be a good citizen of this country. Discuss the rights, duties, and obligations of a responsible and active American citizen."
Citizenship by definition is a person born into the country, or given the rights by the government after you immigrate and become a member of that nation.
Being a good citizen means treating others the way you would want to be treated. Obey the laws, and to protect the private property of others. A good citizen is an informed citizen. Know the national issues and problems by regularly reading the newspaper and listening to television and radio news broadcasts.
Citizens' duties are to vote in elections, pay taxes, serve on a jury, register for the draft, etc.
Citizens' rights are:
- Right to vote
- Right to a fair and speedy trial
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the Press
- Freedom of Assembly
- Right to National Security
- Right to Keep and Bear Arms
- Privilege of traveling
- Carry legal firearms
- Eligible to work in all areas
The obligations of a RESPONSIBLE American Citizen is to pay bills on time, keep your word, show up to court as a jury, etc.
Do TWO of the following:
- (a) Visit a place that is listed as a National Historic Landmark or that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tell your counselor what you learned about the landmark or site and what you found interesting about it.
- '(b) Tour your state capitol building or the U.S. Capitol. Tell your counselor what you learned about the capitol, its function, and the history.
- (c) Tour a federal facility. Explain to your counselor what you saw there and what you learned about its function in the local community and how it serves this nation.
- (d) Choose a national monument that interests you. Using books, brochures, the Internet (with your parent's permission), and other resources, find out more about the monument. Tell your counselor what you learned, and explain why the monument is important to this country's citizens.
Watch the national evening news five days in a row OR read the front page of a major daily newspaper five days in a row.
What national issues did you learn about?
Choose one and explain how it affects you and your family.
Discuss each of the following documents with your counselor. Tell your counselor how you feel life in the United States might be different without each one.
- (a) Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was the US newly established government written document, that asserted US freedom from the rule of English King. Going as far as establish the right of the people in overthrowing all tyranny and setting rules on how to preserve individual freedoms. The Declaration of Independence, is the document that legally establishes the United States as an independent nation and is at the core of all future legislations, created by the US government.
- (b) Preamble to the Constitution
The preamble is a table of contents for the constitution. It outlines the most important aspects of the constitution, and explains the reasoning for having a constitution. It is important because it helps people to better understand the constitution and why we have it.
- (c) The Constitution
The Constitution explains the philosophies and reasoning behind the U.S. republic, and talks about the different rights and freedoms all citizens must be given. It's essentially an instruction manual for the U.S. government. The Constitution is important because it's what our entire country is based upon.
- (d) Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights included the first 10 amendments to the constitution. These are the basic rights of citizens of the United States. Life in the U.S. could be constricted and more federally controlled without one. These basic rights are vital for a truly free country.
- (e) Amendments to the Constitution
There are 27 amendments to the constitution, the first 10 being the Bill of Rights. The 11th secures the right to sue a state. The 12th defines the election of President and Vice President and the fallback system if one should die in office. The 13th abolishes slavery. The 14th specifies the post-Civil War requirements and notes that freed slaves are citizens. The 15th specifically dictates that all races have full rights. The 16th modifies the tax system. The 17th lays out the system for replacement of senators. The 18th banned alcohol. The 19th gives women the right to vote. The 20th patches some basic government functions. The 21st makes the 18th amendment inactive, thereby un-banning alcohol. The 22nd amendment states that no one can be elected President more than 2 terms. The 23rd modifies the Electoral College. The 24th states that no one can be kept from voting because of tax status. The 25th reinforces the replacement system for the President and Vice President. The 26th moves the voting age to 18. The 27th deals with the payment of representatives.
List the six functions of government as noted in the preamble to the Constitution. Discuss with your counselor how these functions affect your family and local community.
- Form a more perfect Union... States working together
- Establish Justice... Make and enforce laws
- Ensure Domestic Tranquility... Peace in our country
- Provide for the Common Defense... Keep country safe from an attack
- Promote the General Welfare... Contribute and promote happiness
- Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity... Make sure we stay free and keep our rights
Choose a speech of national historical importance. Who was the creator? Tell about the author. Explain the importance of the speech at the time it was given and how the speech applies to American citizens today. Quote a sentence and tell why it has meaning to you. Here's an example.
Speech: President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Author: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. He was also the Commander in Chief of the Union Army during the Civil war.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense we can not dedicate ~ we can not consecrate ~ we can not hallow this ground. The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Importance of the speech: In 1863, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was the site of one of the bloodiest and most important battles during the Civil War. Over 51,000 causalities had been suffered on both sides. Four months later President Lincoln gave this speech to dedicate a cemetery on this battlefield site. Lincoln reminded everyone what we were fighting for - "one nation under God". Not a separated nation. He also claimed that the nation built by our fore fathers "shall not perish from the earth". In other words, he would not allow the country to be destroyed.
Tell how it applies to American citizens today. This applies to American citizens today because if there ever is a war between our country, we should remember this because it helped us in 1863.
Sentence and what it means: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
In this sentence Lincoln seems to have be reminding the audience that "all men are created equal" as written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 in the opening of the United States Declaration of Independence that states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;"
This concepts have also been extended later, but previous to Lincoln speech, by The United States Bill of Rights (1791) comprising the first 10 constitutional amendments, based on The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789. It guaranteed many "natural rights" that were influential in justifying the revolution, and attempted to balance a national government with personal liberties.
Name the three branches of our federal government and explain to your counselor their functions. Explain how citizens are involved in each branch. For each branch of government, explain the importance of the system of checks and balances.
The three branches are...
- The Executive Branch - applies the laws
- The Legislative Branch - makes the laws
- The Judicial Branch - interprets the laws
Citizens have the right to vote on who takes up office in the legislative branch and, indirectly, the executive branch, however citizens do not elect members of the judicial branch. Citizens also can suggest laws and bills that the legislative branch can vote to put into action. This is how citizens can participate in the government. With checks and balances one branch can check another to keep power balanced. For instance, A president can veto laws that Congress votes for, but if the Congress can get two thirds of the states to vote yes for the bill then that surpasses the veto.
Name your two senators and the member of Congress from your congressional district. Write a letter about a national issue and send it to one of these elected officials, sharing your view with him or her. Show your letter and any response you receive to your counselor.
To find and contact your two Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
To find and contact your Congress person: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
- Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge with Workbook PDF, current requirements, and resources for the Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge.
"Citizenship In The Nation Merit Badge" http://www.meritbadge.com/mb/003.htm 5/29/06
"A History of the Washington Monument" http://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm 5/29/06
"Washington Monument: Symbolism" http://www.nps.gov/wamo/memorial/symbolism.htm 5/29/06
"Wikipedia - Gettysburg Address" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address 10/14/2007
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