This I Believe

Trissa - Kailua, Hawaii
Entered on May 12, 2007

I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance should be to the people and not the flag of the United States of America. In the past few decades much has been made of “our flag” and respect for it. We even state the Pledge of Allegiance and then have arguments as to whether God should be mentioned or banished in this rite of patriotism. Yet, even as a child I was troubled by the words of the pledge of allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag… “To the flag?” I wondered, once I understood the meaning of the words. I thought allegiance was loyalty. Can I really be loyal to a flag?

I remember a heated argument in college about why I was a loyal American despite my very idealistic questioning of my country and its government. One fellow student in philosophy was horrified when I stated that flag burners would be given more power by laws and amendments against the practice. By the time I stated my doubt about “The Pledge” he actually mumbled under his breath “America, love it or leave it.

Nowadays, I rarely if ever tell people I am uncomfortable with the Pledge and when I first mentioned it to my husband he challenged me. “How would you say it?” he asked. “Well”, I said “how about I pledge allegiance to the Republic of the United States of America and by the way our flag is really cool.” He didn’t let me continue due to the tears in his eyes from laughter. If the man who loves and cares for me thinks I’m a little quirky with my peeve, I don’t think I will have any luck changing minds. Or maybe I will.

One night last spring my husband came back from a class on a local military base. They were on break during Reverie and everyone stood at attention and watched the ceremonious lowering of the flag. Except for one problem. No one could see the flag. It was probably half a mile away. Not only that, buildings were in the line of view including the bank. My husband talked about the laughter the group had when they were considering that they were facing a bank as they paused to salute the flag. As he recounted the story for me, he gazed with a distant look and said. “You know when we can’t see the flag maybe we should just salute each other, you know, ‘We The People’.” I had tears welling up when I considered a group of men and women, some who have had multiple tours serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan facing each other as they contemplated what the flag really means. It says ‘We the People’. I have a wise husband and he helped me come up with a better answer the next time he challenges me. I believe our pledge of allegience should go like this. “I pledge allegience to the people of the United States of America, and to the Republic they form, One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all…” “…and by the way, our flag is really cool.”