What a simple pledge; so small, so easy to remember. For much of US history every school day from coast to coast started with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord's Prayer or a moment of silent prayer.
These simple routines seem old-fashioned by our modern, more enlightened culture. How could we force religion or "GASP!!" patriotism on innocent minds like that?
Well, I can't speak to the logic behind instilling values in children through the school system. I can tell you there is certainly a difference in the students from my day and the children graduating over the past thirty years.
We never had school shootings in those days. Neither did we have rampant teen pregnancies like they do now.
Sure girls did get pregnant in small numbers in every era. The difference is the father stepped up and took responsibility for the woman and child. More often than not they got married.
Why would such a simple pledge have an impact on society? What difference can saying a few lines each morning have on children?
The answer is as simple as the question; it taught us that we were the center of the universe.
By saying the Pledge of Allegiance we acknowledged that we were citizens of the United States.
We declared that we owed loyalty, fidelity and service to our nation.
Most importantly, through school prayer and the pledge of Allegiance, we were reminded that we are a part of a larger community; that being a nation and a faith. There is certainly value in acknowledging our civic responsibilities.
This isn't the place to debate school prayer; too many people argue about that already.
I feel that a lot of the problems we see in school today are traceable back to the end of the Pledge of Allegiance. I’ve already pointed out two of the effects; pregnancy and school violence.
It could be argued that many other social ills derive from this failure. We have had difficulty in recruiting young people willing to serve in the military.
No, this isn’t because of Bush or the Iraqi/Afghanistan Wars. Recruiting numbers were low in the nineties after Clinton came into office. When the Commander in Chief refused to serve, how can he then inspire youth to heed the call to duty?
No, like many of his generation, he valued his life more than the existence of his nation. He demanded rights and freedom but was unwilling to pay the price for it.
Perhaps he would have been a different person had he learned the Pledge of Allegiance in his youth. Perhaps the country would have been a different place under his leadership.
A simple set of declarative phrases – spoken clearly and in unison – a room full of citizens with hand over heart – telling the walls and the world that they were a part of a great tradition begun in 1776 and not yet ending with them.
Perhaps we can already see the end . . . or we could put the Pledge of Allegiance back in schools . . .in ENGLISH!