THOUGHTS ON OUR FLAG AND THE PLEDGE
When we say the Pledge of Allegiance do we really understand what we are saying?
“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 we consider what the pledge says phrase by phrase its true meaning becomes very clear. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America” the flag is a symbol of our country. We all have symbols that we hold dear it may be dog-tags worn by a veteran, by a surviving spouse or child. It may be a football jersey hung in a closet as reminder of glory days in high school or college. It may be that special card given by mom or dad. Whatever it is be we all have symbols that mean something to us, that are important to us.
There are some people today who show disrespect for our flag, who refuse to stand when the National Anthem is played. Or who will burn our flag in protest. There are those who don’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. Perhaps some feel disenfranchised because of the way their forebears were treated or because their political ideology.
Before I go any farther consider. Are any of us perfect? Do any of us harbor hate of any kind? For any group? If you are on the left, do you hate the right? If you’re a Democrat you hate Republicans? If you are conservative do you hate liberals? If you’re a Republican do you hate Democrats? Have any of us ever made a mistake? Have any of us ever done something wrong and knew it was wrong when we did it? I know I have.
Now consider. If we all make mistakes. If we have all have harbored hatred at some time in our life. If we have all done something wrong even when we knew it was wrong. How then can any of us expect our country to be any different than we are? If we the people of the United States of America are imperfect how in the world can we expect anyone in our government to be perfect? And yet we do. We take umbrage with all of the police when less than 1% act inappropriately and yet we ourselves are imperfect. If we judged groups of people by that standard we would be the worst kind of bigot. And yet there are many who judge all by the act of a very few.
When our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence they wrote in part:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Our founding fathers were imperfect men just like you and I are imperfect, but they were looking for something better. Many of them were slave owners and yet they could write those words while they held people in bondage. Slavery was commonplace not just in America but around the world. Sadly, it still is commonplace in many parts of the world and yes in Africa. Even freed slaves in the United States owned slaves, that is a matter of record that we just don’t like to talk about. And yet it happened. Why? Because we are imperfect people and because we are imperfect people we sometimes do horrible, terrible things to one another.
Yet, America has always had citizens with the will to do good. There were abolitionist movements long before the Civil War. Many, especially in the north, knew that slavery was a horrible abomination and they did what they could to end it. From the underground railroad to the Congress who enacted laws limiting first the importation of slaves and then the states in which slaves could be held, moral, decent people took a stand. Were their mistakes? Yes. But imperfect people act imperfectly.
The Civil War may not have initially started to the abolish of slavery, but it was the end result. But, even with the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery people of color were not allowed equal rights. Racism was institutionalized and was rampant. It was wrong and many white people as well as African-Americans joined in the civil rights movement to end Jim Crowism. Institutionalized racism ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the early 60s and other pieces of legislation that followed on that great act. But, even though institutionalized racism was ended by acts of Congress we still have racism and bigotry in America even today. That bigotry and racism is in the hardest place to change, our hearts.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands”
We are not a democracy. We are constitutional, representative republic. If we were democracy, then the majority would rule. In a democracy where the majority rules the rights of the minority can be severely limited or even denied. But we are a constitutional republic. The Constitution protects our rights. Our Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, speech, freedom of the press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. We are also guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. The first 10 amendments to our Constitution are our Bill of Rights. They cannot be taken away however unpopular they may seem at any given time these rights are guaranteed by our Constitution and as long as that Constitution stands we the people are protected. Voltaire once said, “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say.” In this country we may say whatever we like no matter how vile and disgusting others may think our speech may be, our freedom of speech is protected. The unpopularity of our speech doesn’t end our freedom of speech.
The Preamble to our Constitution begins with:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,”
I believe our founding fathers realized that no government could never be perfect. In fact, there was much discussion about that as our Constitution was being drafted. But they wanted a more perfect union a more perfect government and so our founding fathers developed and wrote the Constitution. They wrote it realizing that we were a flawed nation. Yet, their wisdom gave us this wonderful document that protects our rights. That guarantees that no matter how unpopular a matter of speech, religion, assembly, or anything else may be our rights to do those very things that the majority may not like are still guarantee in writing by our Constitution.
The Pledge of Allegiance ends with:
“One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all”
Many people don’t understand and don’t like, “one nation under God” what they don’t understand is that what man can give man can take away but what a higher power gives only that higher power can take away. In the Declaration of Independence and in the Pledge of Allegiance we place our rights as something received from a higher power. Therefore, those rights cannot legally be taken from us by any government.
“Indivisible” we are one nation not many small nations but one nation with one Constitution that supersedes every state Constitution and every state law. States cannot pass laws that are in conflict with our constitution.
“With liberty and justice for all”
The Pledge of Allegiance ends with these very strong words, “with liberty and justice for all.” Clearly a case can be made that we are not there yet but since our becoming a nation we have strived for that ideal. We have struggled to reach that golden shore where there truly there is liberty and justice for everyone.
When our flag is disrespected what it stands for is also disrespected. When someone refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance they say basically that they do not agree with what this country stands for, with what this country is trying to be. Nor do they believe in for the ideals of liberty and justice for all.
But there’s more. Our flag drapes the coffin of all those who die serving this country, our country. That flag is taken off the coffin before it is lowered into the ground. It is folded. Then presented to the family. When you disrespect the flag you disrespect every spouse, child, parent and friend who lost a loved one serving these United States of America. When you disrespect the flag, you disrespect all those who have given the last full measure. When you disrespect the flag, you disrespect those who lost arms and legs and eyesight and even their sanity serving this land of ours. Before you take a knee or burn or in other ways disrespect think of what you are disrespecting. I may not agree with what you do regarding our flag and our National Anthem, but I will defend to the death your right to do it because our constitution guarantees you that right. I don’t however have to otherwise support your actions with my person or money. Thank You.