Think about the classrooms of your American childhood, if indeed you grew up in such classrooms. Think about the orientation of the room. Were the chairs all facing one direction?
At the head of these front-facing chairs, was there a grand podium with a blackboard?
Above the blackboard, was there an American flag?
When the loudspeaker came on, and the principal or some dedicated patriot began the Pledge of Allegiance, did you all stand? Did you all press your hand to your heart?
Or perhaps the flag was at the back of the room. It had red and white stripes like a candy cane, so it caught your attention immediately. Its star-spangled corner was stitched in a striking navy blue, which added a layer of intensity to the attention-grab. So when you stood, you also turned and riveted your eyes to the flag, which took work. It took work for you to clear your mind of everything but the pledge every day.
What is this process? What is this rally call, this song of our country that bespeaks loyalty and passion and even love? In the late 1800s, Rear Admiral George Balch wrote the Pledge of Allegiance with the flag and his country on his mind.
Since then, its implementation nationwide has, with the organic growth of the rhetoric of the flag and some changes in the symbolism, been maintained and widespread. Such as those flags in our classrooms, many flags in public settings, community meeting places and government spaces have been the recipient of watchful eyes, attached to faces reciting their pledges of allegiance.
But what is the process?
When Balch first wrote the pledge, he wrote it with the intent to instill a spirit of pride and even love of America into immigrants to the country, as well as to the country’s youth. He had a passion for educating children and instilling in them a sense of pride for one’s country. This pride is often called patriotism.
How are we to assess a patriotic country? Many countries are patriotic, and have been in the past and a healthy sense of pride in one’s country can actually lead to humility of the self as you recognize the gifts that your country might give you. Public works and securities like healthcare are included.
Is the current climate of the American political scene allowing us as a nation to process the pledge in this way?
Has the climate of the American political scene always contained this healthy patriotism within its pledge in the past?
I think you know as well as I that the answer is no. It is important before you stand next to your child, your brother, your cousin, your immigrant friend, your visiting cousin or uncle or aunt or grandmother, that you teach them very carefully the words of the pledge and ask them, do you feel that this pledge represents your interests? If they say no, then perhaps the idyllic and unifying message of our Pledge of Allegiance needs to be considered if we wish to maintain our allegiance as a nation.
By: Max Bruns ~Copy Editor~