Pledge of Allegiance

23 Nov

I am in awe every time I recite these words:

“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”

(4 U.S.C. § 4, 2013).

The first thing that brings a smile to my lips is the fact that I’ve been saying it improperly for too many years.  I remember those daily introductory activities throughout elementary school that included the Pledge of Allegiance.  The recitation included “one Nation [pause] [pause] [pause] under God.”  Guess what?  There’s no punctuation in that phrase!  It’s “one Nation under God.”  Was that editorial commentary by my elementary school teachers?  You may say that, but I’m not allowed.  I still hold those elementary teachers in great esteem and with no small degree of infallibility.

The second, and most important, thing that strikes me about the Pledge of Allegiance is the inclusiveness contained in its words.

We are “one Nation … indivisible.”  Despite the fact that people want to divide us.  They want to make us red or blue; Republican or Democrat; conservative or liberal; majority or minority.  It simply isn’t true.  We exist as “one Nation.” We’re not hyphenated Americans; we’re Americans (Roosevelt, 1916), and we’re one unit that cannot be divided; sadly, an estimated 620,000 soldiers and sailors lost their lives to establish that fact (Civil War Trust, 2014).  The nation’s indivisibility was later discussed by the United States Supreme Court in Texas v. White (1869).

We are “under God.”  The Declaration of Independence (1776) recognized the “Laws of Nature, and of Nature’s God.”  The Declaration of Independence held “these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”  These words “under God” are inclusive.  They don’t belong to one particular religion or one particular sect but speak to all religions. It may be one of a largest religions in the world like “Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Wicca and so other Neopagan religions, Zoroastrianism, and Druidism” (Robinson, 2015, para. 1).  It can also include Ásatrú, Goddess Worship, Caodaism, Deism, Gnosticism, Hare Krishna, Native American Spirituality, Romani, Satanism, Scientology (Robinson, 2015), Pastafarianism (wikiHow, 2015), and Linus’s belief in the Great Pumpkin (Schultz, 1966).  I’m sure that there are others such as _____________.  But the words “under God” are broad enough to incorporate them, and President Roosevelt echoed that belief when he said that “Americanism is not a matter of creed, birthplace or national descent but of the soul and of the spirit” (1916).

Finally, we do strive for “liberty and justice for all.”  It’s an aspirational condition.  It’s one of those traits that require continuous effort by all of us.

I should probably recite the Pledge of Allegiance more often and marvel at the privileges of living in this country.

Bibliography

4 U.S.C. § 4. (2013).

Civil War Trust. (2014). Civil War Casualties. Retrieved from Civil War Trust: http://www.civilwar.org/education/civil-war-casualties.html

Declaration of Independence. (1776).

Robinson, B. (2015). Religions of the world: Information about 40 organized religions and faith groups . Retrieved from Religious Tolerance.org: http://www.religioustolerance.org/var_rel.htm

Roosevelt, T. (1916, May 31). America for Americans. St. Louis, MO, USA.

Schultz, C. M. (Writer), & Melendez, B. (Director). (1966). It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown [Animated Television Special].

Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (United States Supreme Court 1869).

wikiHow. (2015). How to become a Pastafarian. Retrieved from wikiHow: http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Pastafarian

 

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