June 14 – Pause for the Pledge Day

Posted on June 14, 2017

Today is Flag Day in the United States. Some Americans also celebrate Pause for the Pledge today; pausing whatever they are doing at 7 p.m. and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

"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."


Each nation having a different national flag is pretty cool - it helps keep international sports colorful and helps us to quickly figure out, say, which astronaut or fencer we are looking at.

But pledging allegiance to a flag? Doesn't that seem a bit troubling?

Apparently, most people in the world do not recite a pledge to their flags or nations. The one group that regularly DOES recite a pledge is North Koreans. Starting at age seven, kids in North Korea are required to pledge their allegiance to their ruler (and swearing allegiance to a leader is even more troubling!). 

Back in the day, Hitler's and Mussolini's followers pledged their allegiance to their leaders with the same salute American kids used to use toward the flag. It wasn't long before Americans stopped using this salute, after it was adopted by the Nazis.

Above, American kids in Connecticut saluting the flag.
Below, German citizens saluting Hitler.

These days, most people around the world consider a mandated oath of allegiance to be too nationalistic, even fascist. And I think I agree. I am glad that the Supreme Court ruled that saying the pledge cannot be required - but I am aware of the fact that many school teachers probably make it SEEM required. Most little kids do not want to be the only one not saying the pledge. I am glad that some schools do not have this morning ritual.

I am glad, actually, that many elected officials in America have to pledge to uphold the Constitution. That seems like a good promise to make, and I wish that more elected officials actually did a better job of upholding the Constitution!

In that same vein, I think it would be a better ritual for average citizens to recite an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. Here is a pretty cool version of the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the Constitution, and to the Republic it creates, one nation, indivisible, seeking liberty and justice for all.

But pledging allegiance and loyalty to a leader is a no-no, and pledging allegiance to a flag seems to me to be just about as "iffy."

The world is moving, more and more, to a more global and interconnected viewpoint. Patriotism - being proud of one's country - is fine, of course, but extreme nationalism is ugly. Feeling that one's own nation is far superior to all others in all ways is to believe falsehoods.

 We need fewer outward symbols of love-of-country, like waving flags and singing "God Bless America," but we need more actual actions that demonstrate love of country, like protecting the natural wonders, caring for the most vulnerable, and honoring veterans with job assistance and excellent health care. 

Also on this date:

Birthday of John Bartlett of “Bartlett's Familiar Quotations”

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