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I pledge allegiance, on Flag Day

In Education, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology on June 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm


“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.” This is how the Pledge of Allegiance is worded today. When it was originally penned in 1892, however, the author of the oath, socialist minister Francis Bellamy, included no references to America or God.

ros123Bellamy’s hope was that the pledge could be used by any citizen around the world to honor their own country’s flag. Later, it was adopted as a pledge to the American flag and the words, “under God,” were added in 1923.

To some Americans, there is no more powerful a symbol of liberty and freedom. To others, the flag is a symbol to be used in protest of government tyranny. Whatever the semiotics involved, the American flag has profound meaning around the world.

Legend has it that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress who made flags for the navy, was commissioned by George Washington to create the first flag for the colonies. As charming a story as that may be, however, there is no verifiable information to support the tale.

What is known, historically, is that the first unofficial national flag, called the Grand Union Flag or the Continental Colours, was raised near George Washington’s headquarters outside Boston on January 1, 1776. It had 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and the complete British Union Flag in the canton (the upper corner, where the blue field and stars are located today). Another early flag included a rattlesnake and the motto “Don’t Tread on Me,” emblazoned on it; a design popular today with the conservative Tea Party movement.

The design of the Grand Union flag was altered about a year later to include the better known blue field in the canton with a circular pattern of stars representing each of the original 13 colonies. On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted this version as the flag of the United States. More than two centuries later, the date is still honored throughout the country as a holiday called, Flag Day.

Since its creation, the “Stars and Stripes” has been one of the single most recognized symbols in the world. Sadly, some people in America today believe that honoring the flag is no longer relevant, that it’s distasteful to fly or display the flag, or even offensive.

There is no question that our country is not perfect, and our leaders have made their share of mistakes. But the ideals of peace, justice and freedom are worth honoring, regardless of your political views, and that’s what Old Glory represents.

Today, children are no longer encouraged, sometimes even prohibited, to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The Pledge is seen by some as indoctrination to an ideology or worship of a false idol or some other such nonsense.

The truth is, indoctrination is everywhere and is usually voluntarily accepted without question. It’s in our social organizations, our schools, our businesses and especially in our political parties, churches, synagogues and mosques.

Each of these doctrines tend to divide us as a people, but getting behind a common symbol, the one that is intended to represent the best in us, the honor and sacrifice of those who came before, that is an indoctrination that can unite us in a way not found anywhere else on earth. It’s not forced, commanded or required – it’s our choice, each and every one of us.

Our flag has been burned, spat upon, dragged in the dirt, destroyed in battle, and shredded in conflict. It has withstood civil war, social unrest and political mudslinging. Far too many times, it has also covered the remains of those who died to defend it.

It may only be a red, white and blue piece of cloth, but it represents blood and sacrifice and signifies your right to find it distasteful, continuing to be a symbol of those rights whether or not you appreciate it. So happy Flag Day and may God (whoever your god happens to be) bless the United States of America.

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