having a debate here in the Commonwealth of Virginia over
whether or not the schools (i.e., state) should require students
to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Can you believe it? Here, in the state which gave us
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James
Monroe, our legislators want to require citizens to pledge
allegiance to a piece of cloth.
I can only imagine the embarrassment that our Founders must have
for their successors in the Virginia General Assembly.
Requiring people (especially those who are required to attend
government-run schools) to pledge their allegiance to the flag
runs counter to everything the flag supposedly represents.
To me, Old Glory is the icon of freedom. It is the symbol
of the choices we have in our country to live our lives without
fear of persecution by the state because of our beliefs.
It represents the image of our individual states and people
bonding together in a mutual respect and belief in individual
But that's all it is: a symbol.
The concept of requiring students to recite the Pledge of
Allegiance may be grounded in good intentions. But it is
those same good intentions that pave the way to hell. They
are the same intentions that lead us to the same debate, year
after year, of whether flag burning should be banned. They
are the same intentions that distract us from the real problem
of diminishing liberties by government intrusion to the window
dressing of our republic.
Do I think Americans should say and believe in the Pledge of
Allegiance? Of course. Do I think people should burn
the American flag? Not under most circumstances. But
making these oaths and symbols sacred cows runs counter to their
What harm would it really do? Reciting the pledge and
respect of the flag could very well change the culture. It
might bring us
back to a day where patriotism was alive, everyone liked Ike,
made cookies and father knew best.
But at what cost? Our liberty.
Many of the leaders of the movement to ban flag-burning and
require the Pledge of Allegiance to be said are former military
men. They are men of honor who were willing to live and die for
the freedoms we all cherish.
Ironically, if successful, they would slowly begin the
transition to the enemy they vowed to defeat with their life if
No one would question their patriotism, loyalty or intention.
And patriotism has its place in our lives. The pride and
patriotism I feel on our national holidays celebrating our
freedom is overwhelming. But we cannot and should not
sacrifice liberty for the sake of patriotism.
The Germans did that all too well. German patriotism
nearly ended the world. I've argued in the past that we
have already experimented with socialism too long in this
country. History has already shown us the effects of
mixing socialism and national patriotism. The combination
What happens when the crescendo of the two forces meet here in
I shudder to
think. Am I over dramatizing First Graders reciting the
Pledge of Allegiance? Perhaps.
But there are ways to re-instate respect for these symbols of
our freedom without limiting the very liberties they celebrate.
If our schools and parents would teach our children and fellow
citizens the values the flag represents, respect for these
symbols would ultimately follow.
In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan That
Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America
Founding Brothers : The
by Joseph J. Ellis
Smashmouth: Two Years in the
Gutter with Al Gore and George W. Bush
by Dana Milbank
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