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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance

For those of you over a certain age, do you remember how you started the day when you were in school? First there would be roll call. On Mondays you’d turn in your $1.25 lunch money for the week. Then what? Everyone (and I mean everyone) in the classroom would stand at attention beside our desks, place our hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. And before we sat down, we would bow our heads, and everyone would recite the Lord’s Prayer. Just another fond memory of The Good Old Days. Were there children from non-Christian homes in class? I’m quite sure there were. Did their parents come down with clenched fists, attorneys in tow, threatening to call the ACLU? Nah, most kids I know just recited it and accepted it as something you do. Part of the school day. In the small world in which I grew up, most families I knew went to church, and believed in God, regardless of what they might do on Saturday night. And for the ones who didn’t, nobody ever objected to reference to God or the Pledge to the Flag… my goodness, we even had a Bible Lady who came into the schools!!! How we loved the Bible Lady with her felt storyboards, which she magically turned into beautiful scenes from well-loved Bible stories. Learn John 3:16 and get yourself a New Testament. I always had my eye on that sparkling, glitter-laden wall motto (and I still like sparkly things!), but I never memorized enough scripture to earn it.

Times have surely changed, and while it is certainly the American, even the God-given right of any individual to accept or reject the existence of God, as well as a personal relationship with Him, it has long been more about politics than about religion. Or perhaps the mixture thereof. Regarding the Pledge thing, I learned only recently of a Supreme Court ruling back in the 1940s that said a person could not be “forced” into reciting the Pledge of Allegience. Back then, it was not the “under God” part of the text that gave cause for concern, (quite the opposite) rather the idea of “pledging” oneself to something OTHER than God, i.e. to the Republic or the Flag. Some people felt that to do so was to put another entity above God. Being a believer and follower of God myself, I guess I can kind of see that, although it never occurred to me that I might be undermining my “pledge” to God by pledging allegiance to my country, or the flag that represents her. In my mind, God is God is God and comes before and above my allegiance to anything else… ever. However- it is indeed a law that school children can’t be forced to stand and recite the pledge. That makes me sad. In the olden days we were taught morals, and were taught to love and respect our nation. Our President was someone to be looked upon with honor. Hopefully some of us also learned this at home too, and our mamas and daddys taught us to stand respectfully, with our hands over our hearts when we said The Pledge, or sang the National Anthem. It is such a powerful feeling, that even to this day I get a lump in my throat whenever I say The Pledge, or when I sing the National Anthem. At my church we will sing patriotic songs around July 4th, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day. It is always a struggle to get the words out, because my throat constricts with that powerful feeling of love of country (in spite of all her problems today). The feeling of gratitude for my forefathers who bled and died to ensure our freedom and liberty. The feeling of sadness for families today who miss their loved ones as they serve our nation far from home.

I suppose the point of this post is to encourage young parents to please instill in your children the HONOR and PRIVILEGE to pledge their allegiance to this Republic and The Flag that represents our nation. It takes nothing away from your commitment to God. (Kids won’t even understand that anyhow.) Teach them that saying The Pledge is not a “duty” at school, like learning and reciting math formulas, but rather a way to show love and respect to a nation that (again, in spite of her problems today), is the best place on earth to live.

Parents, teach your kids to say The Pledge. When my grandchildren are just a bit older, I hope to have a little routine, like Whitney did in daycare, to pause for a moment, say a prayer, say The Pledge, and sing little songs to learn the days of the week. Teach them young so that it is a part of their lives, and when they go to school and find out that they don’t “have to say it”… that will seem a foreign concept to them. If you don’t teach them at home, when they get to school and find out they don’t “have to say it”, then how many of them do you think will take the time to learn it, and what will it mean to them? Especially when most of them will have seen that our current President holds exhibiting that manner of patriotism with such little regard.

And for those folks who don’t want to say it because your forefathers lived in caves and oppressed your female ancestors, or because your ancestors worked as slaves on a plantation, or because it goes against what you learned in the Koran, or if it offends your motherland, whether you arrived in this country through Ellis Island, or whether you came here illegally…. My thought is this: If you are sitting in an American classroom, paid for by American tax dollars, then if you won’t pledge your allegiance to this country, (and if you won’t go back to where you came from), you should at least drop your head and pray to whomever you pray to and thank your god for the opportunity to sit in that classroom, free of charge, and obtain an education. And you should keep your mouth shut if others in the classroom saying The Pledge offends you.

A few squeaky wheels were responsible for getting The Lord’s Prayer taken out of schools. There’s already a law protecting those who don’t want to say The Pledge. How many squeaky wheels (or ACLU attorneys) will it take to have The Pledge banned from our classrooms???

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