Serving our government seems a mostly forgotten duty for many U.S. citizens. With our busy lifestyles afforded by our fundamental freedoms, we too often see civic duties as burdens meant only for those with more time. Students learn civic duties in high school and college, but we could use reminders of what our responsibilities are as U.S. citizens.
The right to vote, also referred to as suffrage, is a right that all U.S. citizens over age 18 share today, as opposed to when only white male landowners held this powerful privilege. With every adult's voice allowed to be heard, everything from presidential elections to local issue campaigns can be decided.
Voting in itself is important, but even more important is voting wisely. Voting not only asks for the check of a box, but for your thoughtful choice about the well-being of your community and country.
Serving on a Jury
When called to serve on a jury, it may be an inconvenience, but it is important to keep in mind that you are helping your peers by doing so. Consider the possibility that you may someday find yourself a defendant and in need of fair, impartial, thoughtful citizens to help decide your fate; you may reconsider the value of the inconvenience.
Signing a Petition
You may see petition gatherers at your library entrance, near your local government center, or even at a local festival. These clipboard holders are observing their civic duty by supporting a belief and asking you to give their cause a chance to be heard on an upcoming voting ballot. By signing a petition, you are not setting anything in stone or laying down your values, but you are giving voice to an issue and allowing the wheels of the democratic process to move forward.
Filing and Paying Taxes
April 15 is the day of reckoning for those who earn income. It is one of our more distressing civic duties to many citizens because it often results in paying additional money to the IRS, but tax money funds many essential programs and services.
Volunteering and Other Works to Improve Communities
Civic involvement also includes doing more than what merely is your duty. Volunteering to support a cause or issue close to your heart or serving at voting polls are just a few ways to be a dutiful citizen. The ways to volunteer are vast and varied. Find a problem that you can help to solve.
- Education Resources Information Center: Documents and Civic Duties
- EL Civics for ESL Students: Civics and Civic Responsibilities
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Civics Quiz Conclusion
- Center for Civic Education: The Campaign to Promote Civic Education
- National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth: Learning by Doing; Engaging Youth in Civic Activities and Community Service
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