I am perplexed by the issue that some people take over whether one places a hand over the heart when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or stands for the National Anthem.
The Pledge of Allegiance has been revised twice. The original, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” was revised to add “the flag of the United States of America.” I can see why the actual country that we were to pledge our allegiance to was inserted. The statement became more meaningful with the addition.
The second revision, in response to “communist threat”, added the words “under God”. I am not sure how this addition, countered the communist threat but it seems, Congress and President Eisenhower felt it was meaningful. I feel that “under God” added nothing meaningful to the chant other than emotion.
The words “under God”, in my opinion, should have NEVER been inserted. Say the Pledge, leave God out, and let people wear whatever religious headdress (Section 4 of the Flag Code) they choose, which goes a long way in acknowledging everyone’s differences and individual choices. Saying the Pledge simply allows an individual to show a bit of solidarity. However, as is common with the government, a half-assed, knee-jerk reaction to the current situation caused a revision to the Pledge that only made it confusing and segregating. I wonder what else was tacked onto this change that made the members of Congress so eager to enact it
Adding “under God”, seems to make the assumption that all people in the United States, when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, acknowledge the same God. People worship differently and believe in different entities but not always the same God. Consider atheists and agnostics; a very popular religion. Were they included in “under God”? I would say no. They would have been shunned at best if their existence was even acknowledge; possibly considered Communists.
As a child, I recited the Pledge because it is what we were told to do. It was protocol at the start of each school day. As an adult, I recite the Pledge at events because it does not pain me to do so, however, I do not feel any hostility, anger, or distrust for the person who does not. As I get older and witness more of the actions of our elected officials, I oftentimes wish I had the courage to forgo participation in the Pledge and National Anthem. The elected officially ARE the government and the country and I am usually, not impressed.
Consider this as well, what this country was when the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem were created and what is is today is not the same. The foundation on which the two were created is hardly recognizable today. This country is comprised of individuals with their own minds, thoughts and beliefs. This country is no longer, if it ever truly was, a “melting pot”. The days when people immigrated and wanted nothing more than to become Americanized are gone. People immigrate to this country and are choosing to retain their heritage, tradition, and culture. I have absolutely no problem with this.
During the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem, I believe it should be a choice to respond in a way that aligns with one’s beliefs not as a clone of the way the government has dictated. Reciting words or singing a song does not truly tell anything about how a person feels/believes inside. They stand up and participate because everyone around them is doing it and they do not want to be shunned. I can guarantee that more people than you think do not know all the words to either and I say “So what!” Neiter mantra makes this a better or worse country and certainly does nothing to define or build individual character or that of the nation.
The United States is a fine county but not without its issues. The government of the United States, as with any country, is made up of people. People, as we know, do good things and they can do terrible things. People make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone, in the best interest of a few, or in the best interest of one. The government is comprised of all types of people and with each passing year, my “allegiance” is tied with a thinner thread because more decisions seem to be in the best interest of a few or one. Giving the benefit of the doubt, some decisions are made because an alternate decision will upset the status quo (the establishment) and few are willing to undergo the associated consequences so they make a decision that keeps the establishment functioning.
Finally, children should be taught and allowed to make their own decisions. If they do not want to recite the Pledge, it should not be required . In some schools, if the child choose not to say the Pledge, a parent/guardian must sign a form stating the same. This is ridiculous but I have already stated my feelings. I will simply say this, considering the number of people who do not know the Pledge and the debacle that is Common Core and the education system in general, I am confident that there has to be more productive activities that can replace the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom. Leave the flag hanging but let go of the need to say the Pledge.
Some may say if my allegiance is so ‘thin’ that I should go live elsewhere. I am perfectly happy living here but I want to give credence to other cultures and acknowledge individual thinking, and recognize that the government does not deserve unquestioned allegiance.
I say, do what makes you feel comfortable and aligns with your beliefs without the fear of stigma, isolation, or constant attention in the news.