Guest Column: Citizenship

The PACE character trait for November is citizenship. Citizenship is often thought of in two ways. The first way people may think of citizenship is one’s legal status of being a citizen of a country. In looking at citizenship in this way, the mere fact that you live in a country and have sworn or affirmed your allegiance to the country makes you a member of that country’s society. In this respect citizenship is belonging to the collective community or society. However, citizenship is much more than just living in and belonging to a country.

Citizenship is also accepting that there are duties and responsibilities that come with being a member of a community or country. As citizens we have duties and responsibilities to ensure that our communities are safe, that all members of our country are treated fairly and respectfully, that we protect those members of our society that may not be able to do so on their own, and to make our communities and country a place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed based on their honest efforts.

When I was going to school, we were graded on our citizenship skills. We were graded on how well we worked with fellow classmates, teachers, and other members of our school community. Our grades depended on if we actually treated each other with respect, the amount of help we gave others, how well we followed the rules, and if we contributed positive ideas and behaviors within our classrooms and school.

We were taught that we had a responsibility to make sure that our schools were clean, safe, and that others felt respected. There was an expectation that we would follow the rules and to let those in authority know if rules were being broken. It was really up to us to make sure that our school was a place that everyone wanted to attend, and be part of, and to help those in need.

These are the same things that our community and our country expect of all its citizens. As a community and country, we have the same responsibilities. It is our job as citizens to ensure that our communities are safe, to obey the laws, to help others in need, and to make our community and country a place where everyone feels that they belong.

My great grandfather was very proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. When he received his citizenship he stated, “I am finally a citizen of my country.” He considered the United States to be his country long before he was actually granted his citizenship. He worked hard and became a citizen of the country he loved and worked to make our country the best place he could.

Our Forefathers gave us a great nation which is guided by one of the greatest documents ever written, the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution lists the rights granted to the citizens of the United States. With those great rights come great responsibilities. It is the efforts we all put into making our country a great place to live for all our people that will determine how well we honor those great rights we were given.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has been Sheriff of Spokane County for the past 9 years. He has been a member of the law enforcement profession for the past 25 years. As Sheriff he oversees the Spokane County Sheriff Office and Spokane County’s Regional Department of Emergency management. He is a member of many community board including the United Way, Boy Scouts of America, Salvation Army, ARC of Spokane, The Community Service Team, and Daybreak Youth Center.