Pledging Allegiance

The other day, my 9 year old son came into my office and asked me if I knew the “Pledge of Allegiance”.

Of course, he was really prompting me to ask him so he could recite it to me–and how proud I was that he did!  These are the times I love the most about being a father.  What a great opportunity to talk with my son about what the “Pledge of Allegiance” means.

This got me thinking about how many of us just recite the Pledge without really thinking about it’s meaning, and more importantly what it means to pledge our allegiance.

So, let’s first review the history of the pledge.

The original pledge was published on 8 September 1892 in a publication called “Youth’s Companion” which was largely a Christian periodical.  The author was Francis Bellamy.  In it’s first iteration, the language was generic because the pledge was intended for citizens of any nation to use.  But by 1942, Congress had formally adopted the pledge (June 22, 1942, ch. 435, §7, 56 Stat. 380) and by 1954, the pledge had been changed by Congress to it’s current form to reflect its use in the United States and to incorporate our Christian heritage in order to make a bold and public stance against the growing threat of Communism.

NOTE: This is one of the many instances where our Christian heritage is recognized by our own government.  This is not to be confused with endorsement of one denomination of the Christian faith.  Be sure to subscribe to the blog to read more about this in future posts.

ALLEGIANCE, noun – the duty of fidelity to a king, government or state

–American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

So, as it stands, and in accordance with 4 USC, Section 4 ,the Pledge reads as follows (hopefully this is not new to anyone) :

“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.”

Let’s break it down:

 

FIDELITY, noun – Faithfulness; careful and exact observance of duty, or performance of obligations.

–American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

“I pledge allegiance…”– I promise careful and exact observance of my duty and performance of my obligations as a citizen…

“…to the Flag of the Unites States of America…” – to the symbol of the United States of America…

“…, and to the Republic for which it stands…” – and more specifically, to the Republic for which that flag is a symbol.  This Republic is not an individual or faction, but is represented by the Constitution of the United States.

 

INDIVISIBLE, adjective – That cannot be divided, separated or broken; not separable into parts.

–American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

“…, one Nation under God…” – This Republic is one nation under God’s authority.  NOTE: once again, we are recognizing our dependence on our God’s providence and mercy, not promoting any denomination of Christianity.

 

“…indivisible…” – While we are made up of the several states, we are formed into one union under our Constitution’s protection.

“…with liberty and justice for all.” – Under our Constitution, every citizen is guaranteed the liberties established therein and justice shall be applied equally to each of us.

This is what we are pledging allegiance to each time we recite these words.  So next time someone begins the Pledge, even if you are across the room, building, field, or whatever, stand at attention and render the salute with a genuine understanding of what you are saying.

We live in the greatest country on the earth and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll recognize that if it is supported properly, we get much more out of our Constitution than we individually pledge with these words.

 

 

 

 

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A Republic If You Can Keep It!

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

These were the words Dr. Benjamin Franklin replied on the final day of deliberations at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when asked about the type of government the delegates had created. Franklin was clearly alluding to the fact that a republic does not stand on its own; rather, it can only be maintained by an involved and informed citizenry. Only recently, more than two centuries later, does the largely apathetic population of the United States recognize the magnitude of Dr. Franklin’s sage words.

Our republic is failing. Among the symptoms are frequent Constitutional violations, over-spending, open hostility to the Christian faith, activist judges, unenforced borders, a wildly intrusive federal government, and an underlying and radical progressive agenda by those hostile to our Constitutional Republic. In a healthy republic, these symptoms would only flare up briefly, to be attacked quickly and aggressively by the citizenry through their constitutionally elected representatives. However, the United States today is far from a healthy republic.

In a healthy republic, citizens would inform themselves about how their government should operate. They would read their founding documents—not just reading the words, but reading for understanding. Citizens would study their nation’s history—not just reading from textbooks, but reading from original sources written during the historical period. They would do this to ensure they were getting a factual representation and not someone’s personal revision of history. Yet, today, very little time is given to studying our founding documents, and the history we know is largely based on the textbooks we read in school or the documentaries we watch on television.

In a healthy republic, citizens have a very skeptical view of their government and take an active interest in politics because it is the only non-violent means by which they can restrain their government. They would engage their fellow citizens—one on one or in town meetings—to debate the merits of legislative proposals or the actions taken by their government. Citizens would be in frequent contact with their elected representatives to ensure that their government did not overstep their mandate. Yet, today our interest is only raised when we personally witness a direct and measurable consequence to our personal lives. Even then, all we say is “someone should do something about that!”

Ours is the only country in the history of mankind that has survived as long as it has under the same founding document. The reason for this was described by Dr. Franklin when the Constitutional Convention reached a deadlock as to the question of representation. He urged the delegates to pray each morning before undertaking the debates saying:

Franklin, Benjamin-402x402

Dr. Benjamin Franklin

“I’ve lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing Proofs I see of this Truth — That God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, — and I also believe that without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel”

 –Dr. Benjamin Franklin

 

The events leading up to and including the Constitutional Convention were divinely inspired. It is only by the grace of God that our nation was formed as a Constitutional Republic and has endured this long. However as Ronald Reagan said…

President Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan

“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and lost it, have never known it again.”

–President Ronald Reagan

The key to saving our country is to engage our citizenry politically again. Politics is not dirty. I know that is the stigma attached to it today, but our founders recognized politics for what it is: a key to preserving our liberties. Politics is not dirty, it is the people practicing politics that are dirty. It is like the old adage about money: money is the root of all evil (which has morphed over the centuries from the original biblical source: 1 Timothy 6:10). No, money is just a tool. It can be used for good or for bad. It is the people who spend the money that have the capability to be evil.

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