Monday, April 23, 2012

Pledge of Allegiance


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By Diane Forrest

I was recently reading that the state of Nebraska has a law pending that would require all public school students to recite the pledge of allegiance.  Not just the younger students, but through high school as well.  Personally, I can remember saying the pledge every morning to the flag that hung in my classroom, so I saw nothing amiss with this law, and while I was reading the article I went to the comment section to see what others were saying.  Imagine my surprise when most of the comments were against this proposed law.  How could this be?

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I grew up in a very patriotic family.  The men in my family were members of the armed forces, who all fought for our country and its freedoms.  My father, brother and son were all in the Boy Scouts, and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.  One of their requirements is to learn everything about the flag, particularly the rules of displaying it and treating it with dignity.

I never knew about the origins of the flag.  I assumed that it was written around the same time we became a country, along with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the design and making of the flag by Betsy Ross, and the writing of the National Anthem.  Actually the pledge was not written until 1892 by a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy.  Mr. Bellamy was also a chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association. As its chairman, he prepared the program for the public schools' quadri-centennial celebration for Columbus Day in 1892. He structured this public school program around a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute - his 'Pledge of Allegiance.'

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His original Pledge read as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.  In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.  The addition of the words under God has made it a very controversial subject.  Atheists have argued the separation of church and state, and the violation of their rights.

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In October, 2010, one judge in Mississippi even charged an attorney with contempt for not reciting the pledge in his courtroom.  His ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court, and the judge was later reprimanded publically.  In my opinion there will always be people who have different thoughts and ideas.  As I learned at a very young age, your rights end where another's begin.  I learn to respect other's views, as long as they respect mine.  If I want to believe that my nation is ruled under God that is my right.  If you chose not to believe that, it is your right, but don't try to take my right from me.

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In 1969 famous comedian Red Skelton gave a speech about the Pledge of Allegiance.  In this speech he said that since he was a small boy 2 words had been added to the pledge, "under God".  He stated wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that would make it a prayer, thereby not allowing the pledge to be recited in schools?  Yes, Mr. Skelton, it is a pity!  To hear his speech in its entirety, click here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZBTyTWOZCM

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“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.”

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