The White House Easter Egg roll, which we've just witnessed in Washington DC, is a century old tradition.
Applications for tickets flood in from all over the country, and families from every state in the union, who are lucky in the ballot, get to visit the White House south lawn, roll eggs, take part in arts and crafts, or meet celebrities from all areas of life.
This year some lucky youngster played a set of doubles with Barack Obama against Chris Evert and Andy Ruddick, another played basketball with him, some listened to the Obamas reading from "Where the wild things are", and there was food and music as well.
Some 30,000 attend, and each have around two hours in the White House grounds. Watching the queues waiting for entry was to see a cross section of American life pass by: city slickers and folks from small town Midwest, girls in party frocks and boys in jeans, dads in service uniform and mums in Easter outfits, the smart, the casual, the excited and the tired – they passed in a stream of faces – from every ethnic background imaginable.
Some were dressed up, and some had clearly come as they were; this was no Royal Garden Party but rather an exhibition of citizenship and accessibility to the places where laws are passed and the people are represented.
Despite the economic toils of the country just now, this was a powerful antidote to the cynicism which seems to be normal in our country towards government and politicians.
Folk were well aware of politicians' failings, but seemed able still to see the bigger picture, to respect the ideals of governance. In our school, Modern Studies students are always very positive after visits to the parliament or meetings with local politicians.
We get a good response, too, in elections for pupil voice – but maybe in Scotland we still need to try harder for all our pupils with what the Americans call "civics".
Young people who are disengaged from, or disillusioned by, our political system are a poor investment in the future.
You can be disappointed by a particular government or party, surely, without falling victim to the cynicism of "all politicians are the same".
For all that, the response to the idea of Scottish Studies has been lukewarm in some areas, as if pride and knowledge of one's history and culture is somehow "propaganda".
Similarly, knowing and respecting how your country is governed does not have to equate with a my-country-right-or-wrong attitude; it doesn't have to promote chauvinism or flagwaving jingoism, but surely encouraging an interest must be good for pupils and beneficial to the country.
I've often thoughts on visits to Washington that there are many Americans for whom a visit to DC – to see where government operates, to visit the great Smithsonian museums, is a kind of civic version of the pilgrimages to shrines undertaken by some religions. It adds experience to knowledge, life to the text books.
Also, I don't know if this was a coincidence – but there was scarcely any litter.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.