By popular demand, I have chosen to rerun this article that was originally published in the Navasota Examiner Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
I was recently at a civic meeting which began with The Pledge of Allegiance and it gave me pause to think about the words of that text and what they really mean. I have spoken those words thousands of times over the years, but I had never really contemplated the deeper meaning of the work itself. Writers choose certain words as part of their craft to convey certain emotions, feelings, and inferences. This was certainly the case when The Bellamy Salute was originally written in 1892 which became known as The Pledge of Allegiance in 1923. Here is my close reading of Our Pledge.
Pledge – A binding promise or agreement, a personal guarantee.
Allegiance – A swearing of loyalty and devotion to a group or cause; a bond by duty to remain faithful.
Flag of the United States of America – The undeniable and easily recognizable symbol of our country consisting of certain colors and design representing our democracy, unity, and independence.
Republic – A form of government centered on its citizens whose elected representatives’ rule and govern the state, thus allowing democracy to prevail.
One Nation – The notion that within our fifty states we have our differences, but we are all Americans. We have a single government which is “of, by, and for the people.” The Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” means “Out of Many, One.”
Under God – A sentiment meaning that we are subject to the authority, guidance, and instruction of the Almighty. These two words were added in 1954.
Indivisible – An entity that cannot be separated into parts. Not even a Civil War could completely divide our country.
Liberty – The quality of being free, to do as one pleases. The positive enjoyment of life.
Justice – The quality of fair, balanced, and ethical treatment for all; the moral principal of doing what is right.
Taken literally this is how The Pledge of Allegiance translates to me.
“I personally enter into a contract of loyalty and devotion to my country and to our nation’s flag, a visible symbol of both the unity and independence of America. The government that I am a part of gives every citizen a voice and we are one nation with many separate states, united as a whole. We are rooted in morality and are subject to the Almighty. Our country is as solid as a rock and cannot be splintered, chipped, or split. With this pledge I fully embrace the freedom to live my life as I see fit and I will seek what is right, not what is easy, in the equal treatment for all of my fellow citizens.”
Friends, the pledge to our flag glues us to the Jell-O of what we are as Americans. Our country is always growing stretching, bending, and improving with time. It is perfect in its imperfections. We started off as a fragmented, loosely strung together union of colonies that has become the united and strong country that we know and love today. We are the model of democracy and freedom to the world. However, we are far from perfect and we have injustices and inequalities that we need to work on. That being said, I think there is a lot more good than there is evil in this country - and good always beats evil according to the book I read the most.
I am proud to be an American and I stand for its virtues its symbols and its history - warts and all. Our country ebbs and flows with the winds of change and yet it is still strong enough to bend. The next time I pledge allegiance to our flag it will mean more to me than it did the last time and I hope it will for you too. God bless you and God Bless America.
The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Alan Shoalmire. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.