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May 27, 2018
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Thoughts of the day – why the pledge?

By: Irene Hilsendager
March 2, 2018

While driving on a bumpy road with the hot sun streaming into my car, my mind started to wander and what came through this time was thought provoking. 

I had just attended several meetings and I observed while the Pledge of Allegiance was said, many people did not stand, did not place their hand over their hearts, nor seemed interested in what was being said and done.

I, then on the drive to yet another meeting, thought why do we stand for the pledge? When did it start and why? Recently there have been many major figures in society that do not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance and instead kneel. Some will be ostracized and others will take it with a grain of salt. But what is the reason for all of this? Is there a law on the books that we have to stand? Is it out of respect, but respect to what? I am not a card carrying socialist or have anything against the pledge. I am just a curious person that wants to know the why and where for most things.

Do we honestly know what the pledge stands for? Have we just been brain ingrained from childhood on being taught the pledge when starting school or is it just a social norm? There is one line “One nation under God” that says to me, yes if you believe in God that line means something, but what about those that don’t believe in God or many gods. What about the organizations that are refused service in some parts of the country? There are many injustices against different races. 

If you see someone sit during the pledge, do you feel you have to say something to them? Is it your job to educate them or just turn away and just don’t agree with positions that government and society has taken? We should want this country to be more progressive in working towards equality. Most of us have no idea of the origin or meaning of the pledge. The United States is one of the few nations in the world that have a pledge to the flag.

So why do Americans stand for the U.S. flag and the national anthem? Let us disregard the controversy over players taking a knee instead of standing, so let us remember the many reasons why we stand for the flag and how it all began.

Americans have stood for the U.S. flag since June 14, 1777. 37 years later in August of 1814, the White House and the U.S. Capitol lay in ashes after the British military burned the public buildings in Washington D.C. 

Many Americans feared that the Union Jack, the British flag, would soon fly all over our country again. So three weeks after the burning of Washington, Francis Scott Key, a Maryland attorney who was politically opposed to the current president was so moved at seeing the flag flying at the end of the battle for Baltimore’s Fort McHenry that he wrote lyrics for the Star Spangled Banner.

We stand for the flag today, not to please ourselves but to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

We stand for the flag not to focus on what divides us but on what unites us and for now that is still being an American.

We stand for the flag not to pledge allegiance to a president, but to honor the reality that we have an elected (though lop-sided) president and not a lifetime king.

We stand not because of past or present pain that is caused by injustice but to salute the principles of justice.

We stand for the flag not for our generation but to set examples for the next generation.

We stand for the flag to honor and respect those that have fought and are fighting for our country.

Now, next time you see someone sitting or kneeling during the pledge, will you say something to educate that person or will you stop and think of all the reasons we can or cannot stand, sit or kneel?