” I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisable, with liberty and justice for all.” On the surface the Pledge of Allegiance seems a pretty straightforward statement of support for our government and a short comment on our patriotism. Well, not necessarily.
In recent years, especially in our schools, the atheists and agnostics adamantly oppose the words ” under God” as a violation of the separation of church and state. Then there are the free speech advocates who want to protect their children from what they view as a subtle form of political indoctrination. Finally, there are those, mostly the students, who just think it is boring and unnecessary to engage in this outward form of civic activity.
I am well aware that I come from a different era and generational mindset, but I fail to see the Pledge of Allegiance as some sinister plot by its advocates, whether in schools or at public meetings. What’s so wrong about pledging allegiance to your country? The Pledge is merely a verbal, and thus open, recognition of what this country is as a governmnent and what it stands for as a nation. One might think that Americans, who constantly refer to the United States as the world’s greatest democracy and the best country on the planet, would gladly pledge their allegiance and proudly pronounce their patriotism.
I ran this growing controversy over saying the Pledge of Allegiance in our nation’s public schools to my college students, and to my dismay they were part of the boring and unnecessary group who claimed that their patriotism was a personal and internal matter and that there was no need for a daily requirement of saying the Pledge. They also weren’t so keen on singing the National Anthem at the Red Sox games, but were jacked up about yelling out the words to Neil Diamonds Sweet Caroline, the unofficial anthem of the hometown team.
Like too many Americans, these students and perhaps their parents as well just take their country for granted and think that words of patriotism are just that – empty words. But when I dug a little deepr and asked them how they practice or show their patriotism, most just shrugged their shoulders. In effect patriotism – love and respect for one’s country- was a free ride, not worthy of even the simplest of statements of support.
Now whether the Pledge of Allegiance is said in classrooms or elsewhere is not a matter of national crisis; this country faces far more serious challenges. But it seems a bit sad that too many Americans complain about saying the words that remind us all what this country stands for and hopes to become.