First the Facts:
Section 4 of the Flag Code states:
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag:
“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.”
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.”
Source: USHistory.org Note, I read the terms of this site and they are a bit snitty about stuff. Please note I am only quoting their quote of the Flag Code. They can have the credit anyway. If you want to see the whole of what they say, it is interesting but I’ll use my own words from here on out – with noted quotations from other sources.
Couple this with a bit of personal history. While I never abstained from citing this pledge, more often than not I didn’t give it much thought either. When I considered myself an atheist, I refrained from saying the words “under God”. Why speak words I did not believe? It follows I maintained some belief in those words I did speak.
For a time I worked at an elementary school providing computer support. I was often in the halls while things were settling down for the day and thus wandering when the national anthem was played and the pledge was spoken. I was a terror on anyone ignoring the proceedings and disrupting things. If someone was walking the halls, I made them stop. If they were talking I made them stop. I silently pointed them towards the nearest flag. It did not matter to me if they honored the anthem or the flag. What mattered was they respect the rights of those of us who chose to honor them.
Now about the rest of this essay. With all my focus on liberty related issues, this pledge of allegiance came to mind. As you may guess, I hate doing stuff by simple rote without thinking about why I do it and what it means… really means. So… the pledge of allegiance.
The very words “pledge of allegiance” loosely means “a personal promise of commitment to a group or cause” (my concoction). I suspect this word “allegiance” is closely related to the word “ally”, however the stated etymology says it comes for the Anglo-French word “lige” so legion?
Merrium-Webster defines it as such: “the fidelity owed by a subject or citizen to a sovereign or government ”
Well, I am not a subject, nor is my pledge to any government. Sorry guys but you government people should be pledging fidelity to US. Furthermore, I do not “owe” you any “fidelity”. The whole definition implies the government is the boss of me. Needless to say I like my rendering better.
So when I say these words I commit myself to the“Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands”
Well, not so much the flag itself. A flag is an inanimate object. I might was well commit myself to the chair I’m sitting in. I have a much more intimate relationship with the chair anyway. So my pledge is to what the flag represents – “the Republic for which it stands”.
Next… “one Nation” – hmmm I need to think about this one. The fact is this concept presupposes or at least indicates a national government superior to the sovereign states. In other words – the Union must be preserved at all costs. Now I’ve got a problem. Let’s go back to this “Republic” thing.
Republic, form of government in which a state is ruled by representatives of the citizen body.
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
So the United States is a Republic – ruled (can we modify this with governed?) by “representatives of the citizen body”. The original format was for the House of Representatives to be directly elected by us citizens and the Senate represented the individual states. Senators were originally elected by our state governments. Why? I’d say the idea was, as the states are sovereign, they have a say in things too. Meanwhile the President and Vice-President was elected by the Electoral College with the electors chosen by us citizens. Few understand the exact workings of the Electoral College but my own assessment is it is far better than moving to a direct popular vote as the current system protects the rest of the nation from the big cities with high population densities. In short, this Electoral College idea was pure genius.
Getting back to this “nation” idea – I’m still thinkin’. Let’s move on.
Next up “under God”. In case you are wondering, I now have no problem with these words. If you do, feel free to omit them if you must.
Now we come to “indivisible”. Hmmmm, interesting word that. “Unable to be divided” is one definition. Here my problem grows by leaps and bounds. This takes us to the whole forced unity concept where the states are not so much as “united” as they are “permanently welded together never to be taken apart”. I suspect if the founding fathers were presented with things this way they’d likely decline the invite. My whole point here is the United States is “United” because the States are a voluntary part of the Union. Once coercion is applied we are no longer citizens but subjects. Then the question arises: to whom or what are we subjects?
Finally the pledge concludes, “with liberty and justice for all”. Okay, I’m all for that, no really I am. Now if I think about it I have to wonder how that works. Liberty and justice for all of us who live in this one indivisible nation, not by choice, but by the force of a central government who will march us back at gunpoint if we decided to leave the table? We all know this already happened. What were the founding fathers thinking! Who wrote this?
Oh. None of the founding fathers wrote this. As far as I can tell there was no “pledge of allegiance” back then. This pledge was written by, wait for it, a dude named Francis Bellamy. He was a “minister” and a socialist. He wasn’t even born until 1851. Originally the pledge didn’t even have the words “under God”. President Eisenhower pushed for the inclusion of those two little words.
So there you have it – 51 words. Words we are supposed to speak with pride because we are patriots after all… or is that parrots? Well, I am done with that, thank you. If the national anthem plays, I will turn and face the flag with my hand over my heart. When the pledge is spoken I well remain silent, respecting my fellow citizens. However my hands will remain by my side or behind my back with my lips sealed. No disrespect intended, but I will not parrot words just because it is expected. What you do is up to you because – Liberty Baby!
May God bless you and keep you,