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Defending the Pledge

defending the pledge

WOW

I consider myself fairly hard to ruffle in any sort of meaningful manner. I mean, I may disagree with your views- like when anyone tells me they hate the Rangers- what is that, anyway? But vile as those words may be, I respect your right to root against the coolest team on ice. I even embrace the friendly competition and bets. While we’re at it, go ahead and engage me in a respectful debate on religion, politics, education, and parenting. Maybe we can learn something from each other. And as vital as my own efforts to secure the Purple Heart for my husband are to me, I still welcome a conversation with anyone who disagrees.

What, then, does cause feathers to fly?

We all have those pressure points. Certain sacred areas we protect with passion. Family is a given. If you’re ever itching for a fight and willing to get your ass kicked, go ahead and threaten the emotional or physical well-being of anyone’s children. The survival instinct is another no-brainer. We will fight for our lives. We will fight to defend our integrity. And love or hate the obligations and leaders of this country, you better thank whatever deity you believe in for living in a land where people are willing to lay down their lives to defend us. If you choose to remain here, or if you’ve chosen to leave your home country to call America your home, you sure as hell should show some class by not disrespecting the symbols of this land. At least, you sure as hell shouldn’t do so in front of me. Unless you’re itching for a fight. Marc Randazza. I’m talking to you.

I have seethed in indignation at stories of people being fined for hoisting an American flag at their home while other’s rights to burn our flag are protected. A father not being permitted to pick his child up from school while in his military uniform. A child sent home for having a Marine-like haircut. Or how about the kids who were made to leave an event when they refused to turn their shirts- depicting the American flag- inside out at a Cinco de Mayo event (http://news.yahoo.com/supreme-court-rejects-free-speech-appeal-over-cinco-142019486.html)?

Was it a spiteful act by the teens wearing the shirts? Maybe. And yet even so… if it prompted any violence it’s the offenders, regardless of what shirt they had on, who should have been held accountable. Forcing the flag-shirt-wearers to remove the shirts or leave is not the answer. Can you imagine anyone with the Mexican flag- or any other flag- on their shirt being made to remove it at a Fourth of July event? These stories get my hackles up as I press 1 for English and agonize over the veterans who fall through the cracks, fading into oblivion while illegal immigrants are offered jobs and entitlements those men paid for- we pay for with our sweat and hard work. Argh.

It makes me sick. But this guy… this guy may win the Vomit Award.

Marc Randazza wrote an article about the Pine Bush NY school that blundered its well-meaning approach to cultural diversity (http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/23/opinions/randazza-pledge-of-allegiance-arabic/index.html ) .

Why this school determined the only way to promote cultural awareness was to take our American pledge and read it in Arabic… who knows. Could the student not have said “Good Morning” in Arabic, or perhaps the cafeteria serve international dishes? Could there not have been a parade of flags, or international desserts bought in for a school-wide cultural diversity celebration? Could the school have abstained from assaulting the already-assaulted symbols of this nation? Yes. But that’s not even what is so disgusting about this article.

Marc. Do you really think our pledge of allegiance is, “A rote and thought-free-chant of mindless allegiance?” Do you really think the symbols of this country, or the feelings of those who lost loved ones in Afghanistan are less important than this? Upsetting as it may be, I respect your right to bash the pledge. But why must you bash those who dare disagree- who dare defend their position on it? Do they not also have the right to challenge what they perceive to be wrong? Or is that only an admirable pursuit when it falls in line with your own beliefs? Yeesh.

In your defense, you did attempt to validate your view by comparing the protests of upset citizens to other- wait, what did you call them- “heckler’s veto” and “phony tales of offense?” You compared these outcries and the district’s subsequent apology to a college that bans posters which “mock” anyone. You warned that the Pine Bush students were taught that “open-mindedness” and the “quest for knowledge” are trumped by the outcry over this pledge incident.

Hmmm… but…. Doesn’t censorship of speech apply equally in arguments?

Don’t both sides have the same right to speak up? I notice you even called those who dared to do so “Americans,” in quotes, as if they must not really be American if they feel our pledge should be read in English. How very open-minded of you.

What about your position? Might you not be feeding into the perception that voicing an opinion is only okay for some people, and not others? And what do you think- that if I get upset that our pledge is read in any other language, I am un-American? That I must be intolerant of other cultures? Tsk Tsk.

I had the opportunity to attend an event where 100 people were sworn in as citizens of this country. I feel schools should take students on field trips to such ceremonies. The spirit in that room was beautiful. Touching. Inspirational. It was exciting to see these people who appreciate this land and worked so hard to become solid citizens in it. Their smiles were infectious, their pride tangible. It was awesome. And the pledge was recited in English. And it was okay. Now, I should fully disclose… I am the widow of a man who lost his life in Iraq. So I am a little over sensitive to what I perceive to be a smite on his sacrifice. And yes, the pledge, the national anthem, I want to hear them in English. I want our schools to encourage cultural diversity under one flag, one nation, so that they may promote unity at the same time.

My husband’s sacrifice was honored by all those people who recognized this nation as worthy of such effort to achieve citizenship in. It is even honored by you exercising your right to voice your opinion that a symbol of the nation he died serving is – I quote again “rote,” “thought-free,” and “mindless.” But you know what? Everyone has the right to that free-speech, Marc. Even if I don’t like what they have to say. So go for it. But if you hate the Rangers, too, we will probably never be friends.

About the Author Barb Allen

Barb Allen Is A Gold Star Wife, Author & National Speaker. She's a professional veterans advocate who understands the personal and factual struggles of turning adversity into advantage. But this lesson did not come easily and this upper hand must be diligently maintained. Now, Barbara brings her life lessons to her audiences in keynote speeches and custom programs. She relates to her audiences’ lives and challenges, and teaches them how to become gladiators in their own life’s arena.

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