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The Pledge of Allegiance, What It Means to Me

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS -
ONE NATION UNDER GOD,
INDIVISIBLE,
WITH LIBERTY
AND JUSTICE
FOR ALL.

 

Like many children, I grew up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school. Every student turned and faced the flag with his or her right hand over their heart, and the sacred words were recited in unison. It was how we began each day and we all knew the words by heart. We didn’t always know what they all meant when placed together in the pledge, but we at least knew the words. This ritual went on day after day, month after month, until I was in Junior High School. Then things began to change. The Civil Rights movement was beginning, riots and protests were becoming commonplace. Watts. Kent State. Watergate. Vietnam. Draft cards and bras going up in smoke. The 1968 Democratic National Convention and civil unrest boiling out of control just outside its doors. It seemed as if the world had lost its mind, and the sacred pledge began to lose some of its sanctity, at least to some. Those who stood and faced the flag with their hands over their hearts were mocked. The flag itself was being desecrated on the six o’clock news, and patriotism was fast becoming frowned upon.

Over the years I have never forgotten the Pledge, and over the years the words have taken on a special meaning to me. I’d like to share that meaning with you.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag”

I swear and unchanging and an undying affection the flag of my country. It is a symbol of the freedom and the liberty guaranteed to me by the Constitution of this, the greatest of all nations. It is a beacon of hope to millions around the world who know and understand what that flag stands for, and it is a terrifying thing to behold for tyrants and dictators and oppressors because it is a direct threat to their abominable way of life. It may only be a piece of colorful cloth to some. Something to be derided and desecrated, but to me it is something that I cherish. It is something that I willingly volunteered my life to defend, and it is something that I will proudly wave and defend until the day I die.

“Of the United States of America”

We are fifty individual states. Each with our own sense of purpose, our own laws, our own likes and dislikes, and yet we are united as one. This is how we began over 200 years ago when we banded together to throw off the chains of tyranny and oppression and live as free men and women, beholden to no one but ourselves. Dependent upon nothing but our independence, our ingenuity, our strength in numbers, our perseverance, our spirit and our God. Willing and eager to live our lives independent of one another, but willing at the first hint of a threat to our independence or the independence of our fellow Americans, to unite together for the common good, the common welfare, the common benefit of our fellow Americans.

“And to the republic for which it stands”

Republic. That is an awesome and awe inspiring word. It means that We the People of the United States of America have established a system of laws, complete with checks and balances to prevent any abuse of those laws, which allow us to live as free men and women in safety and with the assurance that our elected officials are there to serve us, and that if they fail to serve us to be removed from office and replaced with those that will. It means that we have the right, not privilege but right of dissent. We have the right to free speech and we have the right to have our speech heard. We the People are the governing body of this Republic, and no one person and no one group will ever again dictate to us how, or why, or where or if we live. This is our right, and this is what the word Republic means to me, and this is what our flag stands for.

“One nation under God”

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892, and became part of the U.S. Flag code in 1942. In 1954 the words “Under God” were added by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Congress to the Pledge. Although there were many then, as now, that argue the words should not have been added and that they are a violation of the First Amendment establishment clause. I disagree. Federal law, state constitutions, our currency and the presidential oath already contained references to God. The addition of these two words simply cemented into law something that the people of this country already knew. We are a land blessed by God, and a people who worship God. The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making any law respecting the establishment of religion. These two words do not establish a religion, they recognize an already established belief of the people of this country. A people who can and do worship God freely, just as the First Amendment guarantees.

“Indivisible”

We are, as a people and as a country indivisible. We are united in our common primary purpose as Americans to be free. We may disagree on many things, but not on that. As hard as our enemies have tried and continue to try to sever our common bond and divide us and dispel our unity, they have always failed and they will continue to fail.

“With liberty”

Freedom. It is a precious gift that others look upon with longing and jealousy and hatred born of their lack of freedom. We, as free men and women, can go where we want, do what we want, live how we want, worship how we want, buy and sell what we want as long as we do not violate any of the laws which we have enacted through our elected officials. We do no answer to any king or queen or emperor or imam or sheik. This is freedom. This is liberty.

“And justice”

The wheels of justice may be slow, and often are, but they grind finely and thoroughly. No one person or group of people are above the law and all are held accountable equally. Whether a person be homeless and unemployed, without property or money, or whether they be a multi-billionaire or the President of the United States, all are equal in the eyes of the law, and each citizen is dealt with fairly according to our laws.

“For all.”

Everyone single citizen in the United States of America is equal. No one is better than or lower than anyone else. I bow my knee to no man. I may choose to show respect or deference to one individual over another, but that is my choice. I am not commanded or required to. As the old saying goes, we each put our pants on one leg at a time. So every American citizen, whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, black, white, or brown – all are equal.

There is a caveat to this equality, however, as this does not mean, nor does it imply that everyone must share everything equally when it comes to personal gain. Each individual is equally allowed to succeed or fail according to their own will, their own choices, and no citizen is allowed to benefit at the expense of another. The equality and freedom we enjoy as Americans comes with a degree of responsibility. It is called “self-responsibility.” Our fellow Americans are there to help, through the auspices of the federal government, should any American need that help. But the key word here is help. Not enable. Not subsidize. But help, and help is a temporary thing. Each American is responsible to succeed or fail on his or her own merits. Not on the merits of others.

This is what the Pledge of Allegiance means to me. There are those in years past and throughout our history who have worked to pervert this, and there are those who still work to pervert this pledge, and always for their own benefit. In my eyes, they are enemies of We the People. Some of them are part of government, and some of them are among the governed. Because of their actions they are a threat to the very fabric of our existence as free men and women. They are a threat to the security of our nation, and I often times think they are a greater threat than any threat that exists thousands of miles away in a foreign land.

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Categories: Politics

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13 replies

  1. Few people care that much about the pledge. I believe Red Skelton’s version of it is on Utube. It is a description of the pledge also.

  2. RockNRoll! … sharing this on fb ;)

  3. This is so good. I too am going to share it..

  4. Great post. However, it is a bit difficult to explain the pledge (especially to Missouri school children) when our state’s social standards are written to teach kids we live in a “constitutional democracy”.

    http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2011/10/social-studies-standards-from-missouri.html

    Readers might want to check their state standards to check what students are learning. And just wait when the common core social standards are unveiled….

  5. Reposted on fb as well. Good post. The best breakdown of the pledge I have ever seen.

  6. Well put; it clarifies the disappearance of the Pledge from any Lefty-controlled precincts.

  7. There are plenty of reasons here for anyone, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist to have the Pledge of Allegiance removed from public schools:

    1. Meaning lost in endless repetition, no explanation given, no history provided.

    2. Comprises an ideological viewpoint that is forced on little kids by authorities to whom they are dependent.

    3. The two above, taken together, is the definition of brainwashing.

    4. The absurdity of having to repeat a pledge daily that apparently is only good for 24 hours.

    5. The routine of it, which makes you feel like a brain-dead, robot sheep as opposed to a citizen of a free country who enjoys individual liberty.

    6. Subordinates the people to the government, which, we are told on good authority, was created by us, with allegiance to us, not us to it.

    7. Exalts nationalism over federalism contrary to the basic principles of our Republic. Subsuming states and individual rights to central government is a necessary pre-requisite for a central socialist government to gain traction. This was an explicit goal of Francis Bellamy, the nationalist-socialist author of the PofA.

    8. Encourages jingoism. Antagonistic tribalism. No other countries have their citizens swear a loyalty oath to their government (except the Philippines, mimicking the U.S).

    9. Concocted by a company that sold flags as part of a plan to compel schools to buy more flags.

    10. Unsavory connection with Nazis. The Pledge originally featured the Nazi-style salute. In fact, Hitler got it from the Italian fascists who much admired, that’s right, kids in America doing it while saying the Pledge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellamy_salute (Man, if that doesn’t give you chills)

    11. Is patriotic lip-service in place of, even at the expense of, actual civic engagement and action. (Symbolic patriotism)

    12. Is uncritical patriotism at the expense of maintaining oversight over government. “My country right or wrong”, is just plain wrong. (Blind patriotism)

    13. Considered by many Christians idolatry, taking the name of God in vain, swearing oaths.

    14. Divides the nation (and the classroom) along religious lines. Only those represented by the Judeo-Christian “God” need apply as patriots (Ironic that “under God”, comes right before “indivisible.”)

    15. Is hypocritical on the part of adults, bullying kids into doing something that adults themselves don’t do. (You say the Pledge every day, do you, and on a government mandated schedule?)

    16. And last, but not least, pledging allegiance to a flag is just stupid.

    • Far to much here to refute at this moment, but trying to smear the pledge because of a salute that pre-dates the Nazis by decades is, can I say it, “just stupid.” Fostering patriotism and good citizenship is a good idea, not a poor one.

    • Dear Patriotism For All (an odd choice for a user name, unless you are using it mockingly – which is what I suspect), please allow me to answer your concerns:

      1. A good reason to provide an explanation so as to avoid having the meaning lost.

      2. An ideological viewpoint that communists and other liberal socialists have been trying to destroy for years. A good reason to keep the Pledge.

      3. Brainwashing? Really? I assume you mean thought control, or thought reform, as there is really isn’t any such thing as actual brainwashing. And since the vast majority of Americans are exposed to thought control or thought reform virtually every second they are awake, your argument doesn’t hold much water.

      4. The Pledge, should you chose to accept it, is good for a lifetime. Not just 24 hours. Repetition is an established learning tool, and is not absurd. Unless, of course, you consider learning absurd.

      5. Funny, I never felt like a brain dead robot sheep, and have always been a free citizen of a free country, and I have always enjoyed individual liberty. Just like the Pledge taught me. Apparently you have misunderstood the Pledge of Allegiance.

      6. The government is subordinate to us. Just as the Pledge teaches. Again, you apparently misunderstand the Pledge.

      7. Since nationalism is nothing more than devotion to one’s nation (quite similar to patriotism), being devoted to a nation such as ours encompasses a devotion to our system of government as well. By the way, Francis Bellamy was a Christian Socialist, not a nationalist socialist as you state. There is a difference.

      8. The Pledge does not encourage jingoism. It encourages a devotion to America. An allegiance to America. Unless, of course, you are changing the definition of jingoism to mean “allegiance to only one country.”

      With regard to other countries requiring their citizens swear a loyalty oath to their government, actually many countries have an oath of allegiance, such as Australia. Their oath of allegiance (which is required of all new citizens) reads:
      “From this time forward, under God,
      I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
      whose democratic beliefs I share,
      whose rights and liberties I respect, and
      whose laws I will uphold and obey.”

      Canadian school children in some schools recite the following salute to their flag and country, as required by Canadian education regulations,
      “I salute the flag,
      The emblem of my Country,
      To her I pledge my love, my life and my loyalty.”

      India actually has a pledge to their flag which goes “I pledge allegiance to the National Flag and to the Sovereign Democratic Republic for which it stands.”

      For a while Ireland also had an oath of allegiance, and China has a pledge to a flag that is sung rather than recited. It is known as the Ba rong ba chi. Recently, a furor was raised down in Texas when students at a Texas public high school were required to stand up and recite the Mexican pledge of allegiance (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/blaze-exclusive-tx-high-school-students-made-to-recite-mexican-national-anthem-pledge-of-allegiance/)

      9. Again, time for a brief history lesson. The Pledge of Allegiance was not concocted by a flag manufacturer. It was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (a Baptist minister) as a contest entry to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering the New World. The contest was the idea of James Upham, one of the magazine’s marketers, as a campaign to encourage public schools to buy flags, and students to buy his magazine. I’m not sure where you got the idea that a flag manufacturer “concocted” the Pledge of Allegiance.

      10. Unsavory connection with the Nazis? Since the salute you refer to predates the Nazis, I would assume you also believe Native Americans also have an “unsavory connection” to the Nazis, as the Nazis used the swastika, a symbol used by Native Americans long before the Nazi party.

      11. Patriotism is only symbolic if people allow it to be. Some chose symbolic patriotism, some chose active patriotism. To say that the Pledge is nothing more than patriotic lip-service is to discount the active patriotism that is engaged in by many.

      12. I’m not sure just where this came from. Left field I expect (pun intended). Nowhere in the Pledge is even the implication of relinquishing oversight of government. And “my country right or wrong” does not imply that either. My country is the best country. Period. My government may not be the best, but it does not always speak for me. That being said, however, I will also say that as much as I loathe Barack Obama, and as much as I detest the vast majority of what the democrats and liberals stand for, I will defend them all against any other country. Our problems are just that. Our problems, and we will take care of them. This is why we have the system of government we have. We have the ability and the right to voice our opinions and to vote anyone we want into our out of office. There’s not many in this world who can say that.

      13. First, idolatry is the worship of a false god. Pledging one’s allegiance to one’s country is not idolatry. Second, taking the name of God in vain is to use it flippantly and carelessly, without the respect God’s name is due. God’s name, YHWH, is not used in the Pledge. Third, the pledge is not so much the swearing of an oath, but rather promising an allegiance to one’s country. It is because of these three facts, that most American Christians (in fact every American Christian I have ever met or heard of) have absolutely no problem saying and meaning the Pledge of Allegiance.

      14. The words “Under God” can only cause division between Americans and those who do not believe in the Divine guidance that the founding fathers expressed in the founding documents. I would also point out that the wording you take exception to is “Under God.” Not “Under the Judeo-Christian God” or “Under the assorted pagan gods” or “Under the Islamic god,” but rather “Under God,” used without specifically identifying which groups God or gods. Your statement shows a preconceived bias about the Pledge.

      15. Bullying is rather a strong word to be used here. I know of no one who has been intimidated through the threat of implied violence to recite the Pledge (for such is the definition of “bullying”). And to say that adults do not recite the Pledge shows a certain degree of ignorance on your part. Not only do teachers recite the Pledge along with their students (and these would be adult teachers), but many adults recite the Pledge, and probably more often than you apparently think. No, I do not say the Pledge every day (as you state), and when I do it is not on a government mandated schedule, just as students in school do not recite it on a government mandated schedule.

      16. And last, but most certainly not least, your 16th statement is, to use your phrase, “just stupid.” When reciting the Pledge, one is pledging allegiance not only to the flag, but to the republic for which the flag is representative. To say that pledging allegiance to one’s country is “just stupid” shows that you have no loyalty, no allegiance to this country. Something that I suspected when I initially read your response, and which attained a certain degree of validation when I visited your Facebook page, where upon I found the only wall post there to be your calling a Tea Party member a “clumsy oaf in a china shop” and doing the same amount of damage as a terrorist. Somehow, and for some reason I just keep hoping socialist liberals will learn a new mantra. Apparently I am far too optimistic.

  8. I have always liked this piece by Red Skelton, however I am looking at an America that has taken prayer out of public schools, marginalized God and Christianity at every turn, legalized abortion, promotes foreign interventionism, promotes gays in the military and gay marriage is next, and is becoming more socialist by the day. I have recently started refraining from the pledge, i cannot in good conscience recite something I no longer believe.

  9. Aquinas, as you so rightly point out, America has been sliding down a slippery slope to destruction for quite some time. The founding fathers would not recognize America if they could see what she had become, and I am not talking about technological advancements. I am talking about the continual erosion of morality, conscience, ethics, and values. All are being rapidly replaced by deviance and perversion in almost every aspect of our society. And it is not the majority of Americans who are destroying this country, it is a minority. A loud, offensive, and repugnant minority whose purpose is born out of their hatred for anything good and pure and honest, and who are encouraged by the apathetic silence of the majority. I say it is time to stand up and be silent no longer. It is time to speak the truth and speak it loudly, and if speaking the truth flies in the face of political correctness, the political correctness be damned! If the truth is offensive to those who refuse to accept the truth, well, that’s just too bad. I will not apologize for speaking the truth.

    Aquinas, the Pledge still holds the same meaning that it has always held. It is the country that has slipped, not the Pledge. The Pledge reminds us of what this country used to be, and should be. We have allowed the loud and offensive and repugnant minority in this country to have their way long enough. Socialism should be outlawed. Homosexuality is wrong, and up until the early 1970’s was recognized as a mental illness, and was only removed from the DSM because the loud, offensive and repugnant minority whined and wheedled loud enough and long enough. It is still a sin, and it is still a mental illness and it is still not normal, and for these very facts, homosexuals should not be allowed to marry, they should not be allowed to adopt or raise children, and they should not be allowed in the military. Abortion is nothing more than murder – the premeditated murder of a human being. Period. Any attempt to justify it is an attempt to justify murder. Period.

    I could go on, but I think I have made it clear where I stand. I would encourage you, Aquinas, to not give up on the Pledge, but rather use the Pledge to remind you what America used to be, and use the Pledge to stir you on help make America what she was and should be and could be again.

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