“Eyeplejuhleejenztoodaflaguvduhyounydeadstaytzuvamurikuhantooduhrupublikferwitchydstanz, wunnayshunundergodindahvizubulwidliberdeeyanjusdizferahl…”

Well, they’re saying it again in St. Louis Park. Twice every month. Thus the Republic, perhaps, is out of danger.

Monday night that Minnesota suburb’s city council gave in to the howling cyber-mob “who are abusing and harassing our city staff, making it very difficult for them to serve the residents and businesses in our city, which is the very reason our local government exists,” said the councilman who introduced the resolution that reinstates the rote recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as the ritual starting point of each city council meeting.

The vote was unanimous and the council got back to the serious business of potholes, zoning and what to do about dogs barking late into the night.

Jerome Christenson

Winona Daily News Deputy Editor Jerome Christenson

Some things are just not worth fussing over.

Hey, I’ve got no case against the Pledge of Allegiance.

All through grade school, every morning, right on cue, we’d stand by our desks, right hands on our chests, and together chant the patriotic mantra that officially began the school day. We’d then check each other for evidence of a fresh handkerchief, well brushed teeth and clean fingernails to record on the class health chart before sitting down to the serious business of penmanship, phonics and long division.

Unless it was part of a social studies lesson or we were playing “war” during recess, I doubt we ever gave the flag a second thought.

And saying the pledge was certainly no big deal.

It still isn’t … although not saying it, apparently is.

Which is somewhat curious, and, not just a little bit contrived.

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Give it a little thought and it’s pretty clear there’s good reason for starting a school day or a public meeting with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, just as there’s good reason for initiating a baseball game or soccer match with the singing of the National Anthem. Both are great crowd settlers …

Consider, when the entire assembly stands, faces the flag to sing or recite it breaks up all the conversations going on in the peanut gallery and around the council table.

It announces the event we’ve all gathered to witness and participate in is to begin as soon as we resume our seats. It’s time to put on the game face and get down to business. It’s the pseudo-patriotic equivalent of “on your mark, set, go …”

Which is OK. The mumbled recitation serves its purpose and it doesn’t hurt any of us to periodically be reminded that we aspire to live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” where “liberty and justice” prevail.

And the fuss made up in St. Louis Park is a reminder that those aspirations really need to be more than words uttered in a rote cadence in avoidance of approbation by the self-anointed guardians of an exclusionist vision of America.

The America I pledged allegiance to every one of those grade school mornings was a light of freedom, a land of opportunity, refuge of the oppressed.

We acknowledged our national sins — some of them, anyway — but we held out the ideal that all of us are created equal, endowed with essential and inalienable rights — regardless of wealth, position, belief or place of birth.

Patriotism was to embrace those ideals with a willingness to act on them, extend them to all people with, in the spirit of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a mutual “pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.”

It was a pledge, not of mumbled words, but of lived belief and commitment, expressed with civility, respect and good will.

In that belief, in that pledge we were indivisible.

Oh, that we still were.

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(1) comment


Jerome, You bring back grade school days. Going to a Catholic school, I have to say, they really did a "number on you"/good job on you when it came to religion and politics. Some of us grow up and open our eyes, others, not so. If you say something against the church or our country, they cover their ears and will not listen.

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