The pledge of allegiance

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When I went to St Peter’s Parochial school in Washington we said the “Pledge of Allegiance” every morning: “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.” When I’m old and gray and have Alzheimers I’ll still be able to say it in my sleep.

Now, I’m the last person to be a knee-jerk patriot. I feel at home in the world, love diversity, am super-critical of the government and the dumbing down of America and consumerism and all that. And I love to find cultures – and traffic patterns – that are very different and challenge me. But there is this weird little hinge in my brain that makes me stand when I hear those lines, and my right hand automatically moves towards my heart. Pavlov’s dog is nothing compared to this. Oh, yeah, so I must “bleed red, white and blue“.

So when I read in that there’s a debate still going on about whether school children should stand up when they repeat the pledge of allegiance, my first reaction was: “Come on. Do it right, standing up, or don’t do it at all. Anything worth doing is worth doing in style.” But, you know, on second thought, maybe you should do it very, very rarely – or you’ll end up like me 😉

Community building or forced advertising? Nice or nasty?


2 Responses

  1. Hi Anne,

    I tend to agree, if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing it in style. I know I lost my enthusiasm for saying the pledge in middle/high school when, for some reason, the words got so heavy for our teenage tongues that it was all we could do to mumble them. Saying the pledge is nothing if not a group experience. And the group therefore dictates the experience.

    As to whether or not it should be said at school everyday, I don’t know. There is something community building about it. At my first school, we not only said the pledge every morning, we also sang a patriotic song. Now I think of it like something out of a bugs bunny cartoon. But in 13 years of saying the pledge 5x a week, never did we have a lesson on what the words meant, or a discussion about liberty and justic for all. (Ideals to strive for, or something that if you’re white and straight, say it even louder because you’ve already got it made?) On the other hand, we did have to memorize the Gettyburg Address and the preamble to the Constitution, and we did talk about what those words meant. They weren’t lessons in unthinking patriotism.

    Thanks for the interesting post!

  2. Hi Carrie,
    And talking about it for a change would clearly make a difference, right? I mean, taking the pledge to stand for “liberty and justice for all” doesn’t mean you have to stand for the status quo. On the contrary. At least with the right teachers and community to support you. Thanks for writing 🙂

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