The first time I heard the Pledge of Allegiance I didn't know what it was and what I was supposed to do.
I was walking in my son's school, on my way to a voluntering job, when the Pledge started. I stopped walking, I was standing still in the hallway, but didn't know the words or the signs. I felt uncomfortable. It really made me feel like I didn't belong there.
The second time was when, a few weeks ago, I went to a Board Meeting of my son's schooldistrict. I never would have thought that was a place and time to do the Pledge.
The Third time was at a second Board Meeting I attended. I did stand up, but didn't say anything. I still didn't know the words and I still don't know them now. I also still don't know if I want / have to say them. What am I actually saying when I say these words? I don't want to say something just because everybody does.
So that's why I did some research on the Pledge of Allegiance.
The words are: "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."
So, if I look at these words I have to admit that I don't really know the meaning of the words 'pledge', 'allegiance' and 'indivisible'. So I'll look them up in the dictionary.
Pledge means: 'belofte' / 'gelofte' in Dutch.
Allegiance means:'trouw' / 'loyaliteit' in Dutch.
Indivisible means: 'ondeelbaar' in Dutch.
I must say, while looking up these words in Dutch I had an 'aha' moment. Of course I did know what these words standing alone meant. But now I still don't really get what they mean all together.
I'm going to translate it in Dutch: 'Ik beloof loyaliteit aan de vlag van de Verenigde Staten van Amerika, en aan de Republiek waar 'hij' voor staat, een natie onder God, ondeelbaar, met vrijheid en gerechtigheid voor iedereen'.
I do get it better know, but I still struggle with showing loyalty to a flag. What exactly does the flag stand for?
I have to look that up as well:
The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 U.S. states and the 13 stripes represent the original Thirteen Colonies that rebelled against the British Crown and became the first states in the Union (this I already knew).
The star :
is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun."
- Hardiness and valor
- Red represents the blood spilled protecting our home.
- Red: Signifies bravery.
- Red is for the blood of the patriots and those that fight for our country.
- Some say it represents the blood of American patriots.
- Purity and innocence
- Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice
- Blue is for justice and perseverance.
- the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes)
The red means the blood fought for victory, It may also mean freedom. The stripes represent the 13 original colonies, the stars represent the 50 states, and the white means freedom, I believe.
America was foundered as a Christian nation. The stripes come from a verse in the Bible in Isaiah 53.5- By his stripes we were healed. This verse is quoted again in 1 Peter 2.24. In the Crucification account, Jesus was whipped 39 times, and the wounds appeared in the form of stripes. So the stripes on the American flag also represent Jesus being wounded for us so that we could be free from our sins. Concerning the stars on the flag, there is a verse in Daniel 12 about the righteous shining as the stars. Each of the 13 original states had a destiny to shine as the stars of heaven. (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_the_American_flag_stand_for)
I don't know how reliable these 'wiki-answers' are, but it all means pretty much the same.
So, now I know what it means what I am saying and I know that I pledge to a flag / country / Republic.
And how about the 'Republic'? What exactly do they mean by 'Republic'?
The term "republic" as known today refers to a representative democracy with an elected head of state, such as a president, serving for a limited term. Even in a republic, it's the voice of the majority that rules through chosen representatives, however there is a charter or constitution of basic rights that protects the minority from being completely unrepresented or overridden. http://www.diffen.com/difference/Democracy_vs_Republic
I found this, unfortunately 'Dutch', movie. It explaines the differences between Republicans and Democrats.
Now I get the differences between a Republic and a Democracy, as it is in America.
I do still ask myself why the Pledge was written? I found an answer to that question:
'The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.
In its original form it read:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added. At this time it read:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:
"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."
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."
The original Bellamy salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who authored the original Pledge, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words "to the flag," the arm was extended toward the flag.
At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." At the words, "to my Flag," the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.
The Youth's Companion, 1892
Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting "to the Flag," the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.
In World War II, the salute too much resembled the Nazi salute, so it was changed to keep the right hand over the heart throughout.'
So, the man who has written the Pledge thought people could use the pledge in more countries then America. As far as I know, no other country uses it?!
I learned that the Pledge was written by a socialist with the goal to strengthen the patriotism. And that more people have been questioning the Pledge. It seems to undermine the first ammendment: 'The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution
I can understand that some people think it undermines this Amendment. If everybody has to say 'under God' that doesn't really sound like 'free exercise of Religion' to me. Of course you can question to which God the people pledge to.
Now I do have a problem, I am an atheist. I don't believe in God (Wow, this feels like a big confession over here in America. In the Netherlands it isn't anymore). I do believe in liberty and justice for all, but I don't believe that God exists. Should I still be pledging? Are there people pledging, I mean 'real'Americans who are atheists? Is this something you can just say around here? 'I don't believe in God'. I have never heard anybody say that around here. I did hear a lot of people talk about the churches they go to, or they even asked us to come and join them, but I never heard anyone say that they don't believe in God.
While Pledging I have never seen anybody that didn't Pledge. I have never asked anyone why they Pledge. I don't want to be that annoying 'alien' that questions everything (but I DO question a lot of things, doesn't matter where I am).
I found more information on the following website: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/22/opinion/greene-pledge-of-allegiance-salute/
The exact wording of the Pledge has changed several times since Francis Bellamy wrote it; each change was reflective of contemporaneous concerns about the meaning. For example: "I pledge allegiance to the flag" was originally "I pledge allegiance to my flag." The "my" was dropped out of worries that recent arrivals from other nations might be seen as pledging their loyalty to the flag of the country of their birth.'
Now I have several questions:
1. Can I pledge if I don't believe in God?
2. Since America is not my home country, should I pledge out of 'Patriotism'?
3. They did worry about that 'recent arrivals from other nations might be pledging loyalty to their flag'. So 'they' don't want people to pledge to another flag then the American one. Do I want to pledge to a flag that doesn't feel like my flag (yet)?
4. Will other people understand it if I don't pledge? Or do all the other 'pledging people' pledge because it is a 'tradition'? Do the people who do pledge ask themselves these questions? Why (not)?
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