My young heart was beating quickly. Even as a young student, I knew something important was about to happen as the class grew oddly quiet and focused. As directed by the teacher, I stood to my feet. I noticed everyone else moving their hands to cover their hearts and nervously I did the same. And then, while looking intently at the flag, all voices began to recite in unison: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…”
This was my first enduring classroom memory. I’m sure I had good teachers and good friends in my early years, but for some reason, this is what I remember. Perhaps it is memorable because we did it daily and the pattern was always the same. Perhaps it was memorable because I am so proud to be American. But what exactly does it mean to be American? Is America about apple pie, weekend backyard barbecues, and lemonade stands?
Consider the lyrics of the song “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band
“I thank god for my life and for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring. Salute the ones who died
And the ones that gave their lives so we don`t have to sacrifice all the things we love
Like our chicken fried , Cold beer on a Friday night , a pair of jeans that fit just right and the radio up”
While the song is catchy and the sentiment is fun, is this really what America is about? Did the founders sacrifice to keep us from having to sacrifice all the “things” we love? Did they envision a government capable of providing fried chicken and cold beer for everyone? Or is America about freedom, liberty, and rights that God gives which no man nor government has the right to take away?
As a schoolboy, I pledged allegiance daily to a flag, a fuzzy image susceptible to reinterpretation over time. And this matters quite a bit because:
– If I pledge my allegiance to a flag with stars and stripes, then I owe my undying and unquestioning devotion to the government which holds that flag up high.
– If I pledge my allegiance to those who give their lives in battle, then I will owe my undying and unquestioning devotion to whoever directs our troops into battle, be it heroic or criminal battle.
– If I pledge my allegiance to apple pie and fried chicken then I can be enslaved by anyone with a printing press and a handful of promises.
Abraham Lincoln said “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” But our classrooms have been infiltrated. The pledge of allegiance was written by an avowed socialist whose dream was to see America transformed into a command and control economy where income distribution was equal and jobs were assigned by the government. Is it any wonder that Americans are confused about what the flag represents?
If America is to survive we must renew our allegiance to the republic for which the American flag stands. Ours is a republic framed by the constitution, built on the foundation of the tenth amendment, and held together by respect for inalienable rights.
“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people’ (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition.” Thomas Jefferson