Recited the Pledge of Allegiance lately?
Once upon a time in America, school children were required to stand, face the flag and recite the pledge each morning.
Remember how it goes?
“I pledge allegiance to 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.”
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Well, did you ever mean it when you said it?
The core of the pledge was written in 1892 by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy. In 1942 Congress officially adopted a slightly revised pledge. Then, in 1954, at the urging of the Knights of Columbus, Congress added the words “under God.”
Bellamy’s job was to develop a flag salute as part of a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. He sought to instill a love of country in America’s school children. President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed, “Let the national flag float over every schoolhouse in the country and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship.” Thus, on celebration day, millions of school children first recited the pledge.
Love of country is supposed to be the tie that binds us into “one nation under God, indivisible.” But, that hopeful, beautiful ideal appears gone with the wind.
A greed and power seeded sickness infects us, inflamed by swelling ill will toward one another. When political enmity pits brother against brother, family against family, church against church and state against state, there is nothing left to bind us into an “indivisible” nation.
Instead, we are fragmenting into a nation of conservatives vs. liberals, haves vs. have-nots, big business vs. common folks, straight vs. gay, black and brown vs. white, faithful vs. faithless, gun lovers vs. gun haters, and so on. We are so split into factions and antagonisms, personified by Republicans vs. Democrats, that our national government struggles to function, much less accomplish anything.
If there is to be a turn-around, courageous and forthright patriots must take the wheel.
One did so last month. Explaining his deciding vote on health care legislation, Sen. John McCain said: “We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
All Americans who mean the Pledge of Allegiance when they say it, like Sen. McCain, must help.
In 1787 our pragmatic forefathers created the unique Republic we pledge allegiance to, carefully crafting it to overcome factions and antagonisms in order to serve “the people.” Elected representatives, three co-equal branches of government, and numerous checks and balances were established to force and forge mutually beneficial results, the assuaging balm essential for indivisibility.
Today, our spreading contagion contaminates the hearts and minds of too many government officials, elected and appointed, crippling support for the notion and necessity of “one nation.”
Take the wheel, America, and enable more John McCains!
Bill Crawford is syndicated columnist from Meridian.