Last week a random poster posted a picture of the pledge of allegiance on my Facebook page and noted that not all schools allow the kids to say the pledge anymore. I 'shared' it because I wondered why this had stopped. That prompted a backlash from a 'friend' who lambasted me for re-posting a ridiculous and untrue post that cluttered up her timeline and that OF COURSE everyone still said the pledge of allegiance.
So, I did a little research.
California does NOT require the pledge to be said at any time in any school. What California does require is a 'patriotic exercise' each day, but many schools consider it passe so they do nothing at all. At Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy students Pledge to the World not to the US. I don't know if this constitutes a patriotic exercise, but no one ever asked me for my opinion either. Alvarado Elementary in SF no longer pledges to anyone. While still others pledge when there is a school function and others just spit it out over a loud speaker once a week or so.
I started to ask people around me if they were offended by the pledge of allegiance. Most just shrugged and said, "Should I be?" That statement filled me with wonder. Were they waiting for someone to tell them what to do? I really don't get that mindset.
Eventually, I found someone willing to have this discussion with me.
"It's the atheist thing."
"Atheists don't like the under God part."
Finally, I found someone with courage enough to tell me. And I get it. If you are raising a kid to not believe in God (and there are many who do) I suppose you wouldn't want your kid to say under God like in the pledge. In order to get around this some schools leave out the under God part. We do have separation of church and state built into our constitution. Truthfully, I don't want the government to tell me who I need to believe in. I can do that myself. I do, however, want God's protection over this country. Heaven knows we need it.
All of this takes me back to Memorial Day, the one day per year we remember the vets who have lived and died for us. My brother is a Vietnam Vet and my niece is a recovering vet with PTSD. I must add that both are doing well but it has been a long road. Losing ones sense of self can come from many different directions when you are in the military.
Both my brother and niece sacrificed a piece of themselves so that we could have the freedom to say what we please. We can agree and disagree about numerous things, but attacking each other is just plain stupid. After all, we have the right to our own opinions and those opinions can be stated in a thoughtful loving manner.
I can only imagine the pain our vets are going through as we watch Iraq fall. Remember the purple fingers raised in joy the first time the Iraqi people voted? But it is not in vain. Sometimes we learn best when the situation causes much pain.
I do want to say thank you to all the vets out there and to the ones beyond the veil. I love this country. We have all the tools needed to be great. We just have to remember how to use them.
God bless everyone.