Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Its a perfect autumn day here in Dallas. This morning when I went out to the bus stop in front of my house there was a fantastic chill in the air. A breeze was blowing from the east and it was so nice to hear dead brittle leaves blowing on the pavement. The brisk air had a fresh quality to it that is only present in autumn and wintry air. I miss this season so much and I'm so glad to be experiencing it again. Living in Arizona for eleven years you forget that the seasons change.

Later in the day the quality of light was splendid. It was as if everything was a sepeotone photograph. The air was still cool and the breeze was still blowing, I just wanted to sleep it was so comfortable.

With that aside. I saw an article today online about the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance and whether or not it is unconstitutional for children to say in public schools. The knee-jerk response for me is yes. However when I really think about it this whole debate is kind of absurd. The only people who are capable of realizing what the pledge of allegiance really means are adults. Not all adults I must add. Children don't know what they are saying when they recite the pledge. I didn't know what I was saying, I was told to have it memorized. I remember in kindergarten and first grade I thought the United States was invisible rather than "indivisible." I was programmed that every day before we started class, when the principal's voice came through the brown box on the wall, we would stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. The point of the pledge of allegiance was just as vague to me as the catholic prayers I had to memorize when I was I young. In fact God was vague to me as well, I thought he was some white bearded man who wrote bibles on a cloud in the sky. So if children don't understand what they're saying does it matter?

Yes it does matter. The pledge, although primarily used by children, is an affirmation of citizenship and loyalty to the United States. However the "under God" statement implies that in order to pledge your allegiance you have to believe in God. It is true that the majority of Americans believe in a God but there are those who don't. Then I suppose the pledge ought to reflect the sentiment of the majority and "under God" should be retained. It would, however, be unconstitutional to FORCE anyone to say "under God" if they chose to omit it while reciting the pledge. That case would imply that you could not truly state your allegiance unless you stated your belief in God which would be a violation of the first amendment.

Therefore, the "under God" in the pledge of allegiance ought to be optional for anyone. There are those who believe in America, those who believe in God, and those who believe in God and America. That is the right of all Americans. Choice is what makes a country free and a democracy flourish. Omitting or including "under God" when reciting the pledge does not make anyone less or more American...it just makes you American because you are exercising your right to choose. Perhaps in this debate it would be prudent to refer to another part of the pledge and remember that the United States is a nation with "liberty and justice for all."


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