The Pledge of Allegiance

I = Me, an individual, A committee of one

PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE = Without coercion or fear, but firm in resolve, even if it cost me fame and fortune as it did our fore-fathers who crafted and signed the Declaration of Independence, or if it cost my blood as with hundreds of thousands in both civil and world wars and a host of other worthy but bloody conflicts; I pledge allegiance!

TO THE FLAG = This colorful banner which, because of the magnanimous spirit of the country it represents, now boast 50 stars instead of the original 13. The Flag, at which the very sight brings a surge of adrenalin and pride. It freely shares it’s inspiration with all. From the day it lay across the lap of Betsy Ross to each time it drapes across the casket of a fallen soldier, this flag speaks volumes. Never did man have more patriotic inspiration than did Francis Scott Key, when at Fort McHenry he saw it waving in the early morning light. From the classrooms of America to the halls of justice, from the sports arenas to the ships that ply the seven seas, The Stars and Stripes speak of hope and freedom. Old Glory, Some have succeeded in burning it, but none have been able to banish it. I pledge allegiance to the flag!

OF THE UNITED STATES = From the factories of the north-east, to the farmers of the mid-west – From the fishermen on the coasts, to the miners in the mountains, we are united! Fifty states, often sharing in common vice, but always sharing in uncommon virtue. This union has survived the forces that tried with unparalleled hatred to tear it apart. From Fort Sumpter to Gettysburg, and finally to Appomattox, we fought our worst enemy, ourselves, but by God’s help we all won. We are united! We remain united in spite of the color of our skin or ethnic origin. When religious and political differences grab for the sword to divide us, they find the scabbard empty. We are united. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States…

OF AMERICA = America, the envy of the world! No people on earth have more or give more than Americans. Contrary to some reports, There are no factories more productive, no product more consistent of good quality, no hospitals more compassionate and safe, no classrooms more enlightening, no laboratories more analytical, no military more ready, no government more benevolent than American. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…

AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS = The flag stands for a Republic! Fifty states, more than just neighbors, but a Republic. Bound by a constitution, each state being fairly represented in the operation of a Federal Government whose flag flies higher than that of either of states of which it is made. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands…

ONE NATION = We represent many states. I, like our first president, George Washington, and the lanky red-haired architect of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, I am a native Virginian. My wife is from Indiana, and all of us have pride in our home state, but we are one nation. Aaron Burr, our nation’s third Vice President had plans to create another nation in the southwest. Jefferson Davis had plans to make two nations of the north and the south. Neither succeeded. We are one nation. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation…

UNDER GOD = This statement seems to fall in and out of popularity as does the popularity of God. But like our great nation’s founders, we declare it! Every great leader of America has voiced their dependence upon God. It was never stated more clearly nor with more conviction than by our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, in both his first and second inaugural addresses.

The benevolence of this great nation is somewhat like unto that of our Heavenly Father. We continue to feed the hungry around the world even while their governments plan our demise. We spend money and shed blood to rid the world of terrorism when there is no reciprocating appreciation from others who stand to suffer the most if terrorists are allowed to rule.

Yet it is not us, but God, who in His sovereignty chooses to bless those who bless others, and honor with wisdom those who look to him for council. 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 = We are indivisible because our Constitution designs such, because the people desire such, but most importantly because Almighty God wills such. 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 = If all the tears of joy that have been shed by the masses as the Statue Of Liberty came into view, could be preserved and released in one volume, they would surely lift the tide of the ocean that laps our shores. The down-trodden and hungry of the world have left their fetters and poverty and sought and found their fortunes in our fair land. My ancestors came from England, yours came from other far-flung distant ports, all in the pursuit of liberty, and justice. For over two hundred years they have arrived, speaking strange languages, but feeling the security of knowing that beneath this flag there is liberty and justice for all.

“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.”

Editor’s note: Almost a decade ago Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow filed suit against the Elk Grove Unified School District in California attempting to ban the use of the phrase “under God” from the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. While the United States Supreme Court eventually ruled against Newdow, stating he had a lack of standing in the case, his attempt had left a lower court ruling with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in place stating that the phrase constitutes an endorsement of religion and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. That ruling was later cited in a second case filed in 2005 in which a district court judge ruled that, because of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, that recitation of the Pledge was unconstitutional because the phrase “under God” violated the Establishment Clause. That case, Newdow v. Carey, has still yet to be ruled on by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and no date has been set for a ruling. The case conflicts with an opinion by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., that upheld a Virginia law requiring public schools to lead a daily Pledge of Allegiance recitation. That panel ruled that the pledge was a patriotic exercise, not a religious affirmation similar to prayer. The original Pledge of Allegiance was written in September of 1892 by Francis Bellamy and the words “under God” were added in 1954 by then President Eisenhower. He stated at the time: “From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” It’s a shame that inclusion remains under attack by some in the public school system. As students return to school this year, they should stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance, understanding its meaning to them today, in 2009.

By Dr. James Keaton Sr.