As Ben Franklin intimated when he announced to spectators at the Constitutional Convention that “You have a republic, if you can keep it,” a nation as innovative as ours requires maintenance, repair, and reinforcement. It needs devoted care, and clear thinking, and elbow grease in order to remain thriving.

A distinct type of knowledge is part of this upkeep. Conventional nations are able to hold themselves together by invoking their citizens’ shared bloodlines and ties to particular land. But the United States—sprawling across a continent, built from a mishmash of races, cultures, and traditions, founded on individual liberty—is perpetually at risk of spinning apart. So there is an existential obligation that comes with living in this free and fertile nation. A faithful citizen should feed and nurture the stories and principles and common history that pull us into community with each other.

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Image credit: Evgeny Atamanenko