Friday of last week, a 9th US Circuit Appeals Court decided to uphold references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance and on United States currency. Judge Carlos Bea, one of the presiding Judges, wrote in regards to the decision:
“The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded”
As many of us know, there is a huge debate over the inclusion of God in, what I call our national alma mater. I believe that the key to picking a side and understanding this debate is to first understand the history behind the Pledge of Allegiance.
A Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy originally wrote the pledge in 1892 as part of the public school national celebration of Columbus Day, which fell on the 400th anniversary of the “discovery of America.” The original pledge was quite simple and simply read “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Over the years the words “the Flag of the United States” was added, and to benefit immigrants the end of the phrase, “of America” was added a few years later.
The Congress officially recognized the pledge by the summer of 1942. Interestingly enough, the original pledge was made with a salute starting in 1892, called the Bellamy salute. However, by the 1940’s the salute bared a striking resemblance to another widely seen salute of the time…
…so President Franklin Roosevelt changed the salute to the hand over the heart motion.
The phrase that is the crux of the debate, “under God,” was added on February 12th, 1948 by Louis Bowman at a meeting of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. The words were said to have come from the Gettysburg Address, although the words “under God” don’t appear in all the different copies of the address. The phrase Bowman was referencing was “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.” After much deliberation over the decision, President Eisenhower signed the bill that Congressed had passed to add the phrase on June 14, 1954; also known as Flag Day.
It is 2010, an age of extreme political correctness, and there are people all over the country still fighting to have the words “under God” removed from the pledge and taken off currency. The main claim is that having the government protect the phrase violates the constitutional law that there is to be no government establishment of religion, thus granting all of the citizens of the United States the freedom to choose and practice their own religions. I have to agree with Judge Bea on this one. To me the pledge isn’t about right wing religious ideals, or brain washing our kids, but it is about the history and values our nation was founded on.
I have absolutely nothing against immigration and people coming to this wonderful country to try and find a better life. That’s what America is all about, it is about opportunity and freedoms and building something good for you. That being said, since when is it our job to make sure you’re not offended? Why is it our responsibility to change for others? Didn’t they want to come here because of how America is not how America should be?
Barry Loudermilk, an Air Force veteran, said it better than I could in this excerpt from an editorial he wrote for his local Georigan paper, The Bartow Trader.
“In God We Trust is our national motto. This is not some off-the-wall, Christian, Right Wings, political slogan- it is our national motto. It is engraved in stone in the House of Representatives in our Capitol, and it is printed on our currency. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation; and this is clearly documented throughout our history. If it is appropriate for our motto to be inscribed in the halls of our highest level of Government, then it is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools…God is in our pledge, our National Anthem, nearly every patriotic song, and in our founding documents. We honor his birth, death, and resurrection as holidays, and we turn to him in prayer in times of crisis. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture and we’re are proud to have him.”
When you come to this country, you bring a piece of your heritage with you. You bring part of your family’s history, religion, and country. This is a truly amazing part of the American experience, but it is very important to remember that when you come here, you become part of something much, much larger. Something that is bigger than you, bigger than me, bigger than any man, women, or child, you become part of an ideal; an ideal that cannot be threatened, broken, beaten, or killed.
This ideal is called the American Way. I’ve talked about this before, but I feel it applies now more than ever. It is our culture, our life style, or values, and beliefs. It is every parent who teaches his children about life and what it means to be an American and take care of a family and keep a job. It is every single mother working two jobs, and still finding time to help her kid with math homework. It is every immigrant who comes here with nothing but a heart and an idea and makes something out of himself. It is every kid whose only dream is to be the first person in his family to go to college and become a doctor so he can help people. It is beautiful and everyone in this nation is a part of it.
Besides, with major earthquakes wrecking nations all around the world, with our brave men and women fighting overseas, and with tough economic times, and crime all around us, maybe now really isn’t the best time to be trying to take God out of the Pledge.
“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.”