Pledge of Allegiance

Japanese American children pledging allegiance in 1942My facebook feed went all American, and there was this stuff about the Pledge of Allegiance. How foreign Statesites are! We would just fall about laughing, if told to do that. So I said so, and a man wrote, “The US is utterly foreign to most of us here too. That’s why we’re Quakers.” One post said In 1935, a seventh-grader refused to say the Pledge in school, sparking national turmoil… Her lifelong husband “had been sent to a [Nazi] concentration camp for refusing to salute national symbols.” Bit confusing, that. She wasn’t married, aged 12. The article explained she was a Jehovah’s Witness. She was expelled from school, stoned and jeered at in the street, and her parents’ shop was boycotted.

Another fb share was from atheists wanting not to say the pledge until the words “under God” were deleted, saying they had been added in 1954 during the MacCarthy hysteria. So what is this pledge, and when do people say it?

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.

Wikipedia: According to the Flag Code, the Pledge “should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform, men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”

Here, I read the Pledge was written for Columbus Day 1892, but soon recited daily by schoolchildren across the country. That’s insane. It turns something which could be meaningful, a turning of the heart towards love of country marked by ritual, into an oppression. Loyalty given in freedom is beautiful. Loyalty extracted by force is monstrous. As in the photograph- when Japanese Americans were interned, forced loyalty is no loyalty at all.

I have sworn allegiance to the Queen twice, once to serve her in the role of Notary Public, and once in the Territorial Army. I would not, now, I would affirm, but I did it freely, and meant it.  In some formal dinners people toast the Queen; my friend always added something which sounded like “The Lord Protect her”. Being republican, she made it a toast for Oliver.

Do adults say this?

7 thoughts on “Pledge of Allegiance

  1. As one starts doing it from early childhood, it’s simply indoctrination. I recited automatically for years until the day I finally stopped to consider what it meant- to which my immediate reaction was, “oh, wait, I’m not American.”

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  2. I said the pledge every day in school until one day in 5th grade when somebody mentioned that as long as I was being respectful (read: quiet) during pledge time, I didn’t have to recite it. I didn’t even realize I didn’t have to recite it! I stopped from then on.

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  3. Forgive me Clare, for I have sinned.
    It has been two weeks since my last visit to your blog.

    In regards to the pledge, I remember saying it in school and now as an adult as my son is in the Cub Scouts and we open meetings with it. It has always meant something to me. I remember somewhere about 2nd or third grade thinking over what the words meant and I LIKED IT!:)

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      • Yeah I have mixed feelings about that. I was indoctrinated to it and came to love it. But I agree it should mean something to the person saying it. Why make an oath if you do not care? But the redneck in me says, “If it was good enough for me then by God it’s good enough for Texas kids.” Try to get the twang just right in your head when you read the quoted part.

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