I learned the Pledge of Allegiance way back in 1953, as a six-year-old in the first grade, while standing, hand over heart, in a chilly, drafty little two-room schoolhouse parked at the edge of Cataldo, Idaho. That schoolhouse is gone now, other than in fading photographs and fond memories.
But the Pledge lives on.
The way nearly all of us learn the Pledge is a an egalitarian process. It is not really taught, so much as absorbed, by listening to ones peers as they recite it, as they in their turn had learned it, in earlier years. And so it goes, those who came along later absorbed it from me and my classmates.
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.
That's it, just 31 words. Throughout my life the pledge has been repeated, though, it seems, with diminishing regularity.
Lately, at political or civic events, when the Pledge has been recited, the thought has come to me that it is more like a prayer for what we might return to than the expression of loyalty to an established fact that it had been in years gone by. Especially that last part, "one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
Three notes in particular seem off-key in this well-remembered recitation.
... "One nation" ... are we? Yes, we occupy the same land mass. It is difficult to visually discern the fracturing, but when one looks at a deeper level, we don't seem to be "one nation" afterall. Voting habits, dependence on government, family status,
... "Under God ..." again, are we? Yes, many of us still attend church or synagoge regularly, but it is at present a diminishing percentage. Consider the effort at the Democratic National Convention to put God back into their platform. Three voice votes were taken. To any observer, the result of each vote, with increasing clarity, was "NO!" This causes me to wonder, just how much of our nation is "under God?"
..."[W]ith liberty and justice for all."
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"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded - here and there, now and then - are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.'"
~ Robert Heinlein, 1907-1988