The originators of the Civic Season envisioned it running from Juneteenth (June 19) to the 4th of July, but those dates are flexible; Gov. Cox declared that Utah’s Civic Season will run through June to the end of July and include events like the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act (June 2, 1924), Juneteenth, and Pioneer Day (July 24).
Each member of our team has unique political views but a deep love for our country. One grew up an “army brat” proud to win an essay contest about the Statue of Liberty. Another taught high school history and government, as well as English learners, for 30 years. And the third, Canadian by birth, is a scholar of American constitutional and political thought. We will celebrate this civic season in different ways, but each of us deeply respect our country.
In Utah, Provo’s long-running Freedom Festival, a precursor of Civic Season, has events throughout the year, Better Days and the Salt Lake City government will host a Martha Hughes Cannon sendoff celebration, and the Mormon Women for Ethical Government is encouraging its members to take small steps to increase civic connections with family, community, country and more.
As educators, parents and community leaders celebrate this Civics Season, let us remember, and teach the next generation, that being a good citizen is about more than knowing, and even celebrating, important facts and dates. Good civics education must include civic skills and dispositions. We have to care deeply about these events and understand why they matter. We also need the skills to engage meaningfully in civic life.
As Abraham Lincoln observed at Gettysburg, it is insufficient for us to simply commemorate the past; rather, we must be “dedicated to the great task remaining before us,” that “unfinished work” which others have “so nobly advanced.”
So let’s celebrate — with our hearts in the past and our eyes to the future.
Lisa R. Halverson, Glori H. Smith and Robert J. Burton are civics education fellows at Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies.