Archive for November, 2011

Pledge of Allegiance Saved in Mass Schools

November 18, 2011

After months of debate, Brookline school children will continue to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in their classrooms and those who wish not to recite it will continue to sit silently and respectfully.  The activist group that started the controversy was soundly defeated (95-76 with 9 abstaining members) in their attempt to thwart the rights of free speech and shut down expressions of patriotism.

The controversy began when Town Meeting member, Martin Rosenthal, who is also the head of an activist group named the Brookline Political Action for Peace (PAX) pushed for a ban on the recitation of the Pledge in schools, saying it had no educational value and that it made his “skin crawl” to think of the pressure placed on children when they saw their classmates reciting it.

Interestingly, in 2010, the principal of another school in Brookline had called for permission slips to be sent home to parents before students would be allowed to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  And in Arlington, MA a high school student made national news in 2010 when school officials denied his petition to allow easy access for students to voluntarily recite the Pledge.  The Arlington school district later reversed their decision.

The Pledge of Allegiance is among America’s most treasured traditions.  In a 2008 Rasmussen poll, one thousand likely voters were asked if they thought the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited in schools on a daily basis.  A resounding seventy-seven percent said yes. 

Obviously, the parents of youngsters in Brookline, MA seem to agree.  The idea behind Rosenthal’s proposal was to force each principal of  Brookline schools to decide where to recite the Pledge – in the classroom or in an assembly, the contention being that students who wish to remain seated during its recitation might be bullied.  In September, Rosenthal is quoted as saying the Pledge  puts “kids in an uncomfortable situation” and that it has no place in schools. 

Rosenthal claims to be “standing up for what’s great about this country”, but I tend to question such statements when the effort is to stop expressions of patriotism rather than strengthen them.  The arguments that the Pledge is a vow to a flag and is therefore meaningless or that there are better ways to play out one’s patriotism than by rote recitation are just plain stupid.  Children need to be taught early on what is great and good about America and the best way to do so is by having them memorize and recite the magnificent words in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

 Over the years, students should be taught lessons that focus on factual American history that is balanced, showing both our nation’s greatness and our weaknesses.  There ought to also be an emphasis on how our nation has corrected past wrongs.  But, too often students are taught an unbalanced version of American history portraying us as a bully sort of nation rife with weaknesses and prejudices.  With a fair and balanced approach to American history, over the years, students will completely understand their right to refrain from reciting the Pledge.  But my bet is that they will probably choose not to go that route.

Boston, Massachusetts was the place where the Pledge of Allegiance was created.  There is even a Pledge of Allegiance building in Boston, named such because it is where the Pledge was written and published in 1892.  It is sad that Massachusetts is now the site of so many attacks on the Pledge.  But thank God for the sensible citizens who still reside there.  I sure hope they continue to fight the good fight to defend the right of students to recite the noble words in the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

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Businesses Honor Veterans and America

November 10, 2011

Stories abound these days of people, schools and communities that wish to do away with the Pledge of Allegiance and flying Old Glory.  I regularly document such occurences, hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of doing away with patriotic fervor.

But, in honor of Veteran’s Day, I’d like to turn the corner and highlight a few locations in America that are red, white and blue to the core. 

Just this week, I read about the Bayshore Patriots, a group in Tampa Bay, FL who regularly gather at Patriot’s Corner every Friday during evening rush hour to fly the American flag.  For the last ten years, as a way to express their patriotism after 9/11, the Bayshore Patriots have shown up at the same location from 4:30 – 6:00, rain or shine, to wave Old Glory.  Last year, they added a monument of sorts – a steel beam from the World Trade Center – a symbol of a nation still standing after being attacked.   The group plan to continue their patriotic flag waving until every troop returns home from war.

Dave’s All American Pizza in Danville, IN is another example of a business with a patriotic flare. An enormous American flag greets guests and a 20 foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty stands watch in the main dining room. The parking lot has special spaces reserved for veterans and nearly every branch of the military is represented by manequins wearing the uniform. Veteran’s Day eats are pretty good, too. This Veteran’s Day, Dave is serving up free prime rib for the lucky vets who come to see this all American eatery.

Finally, there is Chick and Ruth’s Deli in Annapolis, MD.  Proprietor Ted Levitt, a true red, white and blue patriot, began the tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day in his deli in 1989. That’s right. Every day of the week, no matter how busy, the entire restaurant stops, stands up, faces the flag over the register, places their hands over their hearts and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s me with Ted when he graciously allowed me to lead the Pledge of Allegiance after I published my children’s book, America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance.  My new book for adult readers, Saving One Nation Under God, was released this week and is available on Amazon.

If you ever visit these locations, please be sure to stop in.

 

Dem Candidate Refuses to Say Pledge

November 4, 2011

Democrat Nikos Zitis, candidate for a New Jersey township committeman position, simply refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, saying that “it doesn’t mean you’re more patriotic to recite the Pledge.”  Zitis became an American citizen in the mid 90s, having been born in Cypress.  He has lived in the United States since 1983. 

In an article about the controversy, Zitis is also quoted as having decided “there is no God”, another reason he is adamant about not reciting it.  It is no surprise that people who do not believe in God are the most likely to not like the Pledge of Allegiance.   

Which brings me to my main point: Is America one nation under God … or not?  Is it just a matter of those who do not believe in God being louder about their beliefs than those of us who do?  (I make no bones about the fact that I am a Christian and I completely defend the Pledge of Allegiance remaining the way it is today, with “under God”.) 

It is interesting to me that the entire nation is having a conversation about God in America at the same time it is having conversations about the rise of socialism in America.  It almost seems as if both topics have increased proportionally.  Why would that be the case?  Could it be that the Judeo Christian heritage this country embraces understands the connection between God and freedom/religion and liberty/Christ and self determination?  I propose the answer to that question is “yes”.

If Mr. Zitis does not wish to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, it is his right to do so.  As Americans, we allow freedom of expression.  Just remember this … the freedom to bash/disrespect/dishonor/tear down America is brought to you courtesy of the rest of us who DO BELIEVE IN ONE NATION UNDER GOD!

God bless America!

God and the Fifties

November 3, 2011

On November 1st, the House of Representatives voted to reaffirm the national motto, “In God we trust”.  The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the move, making it a rare bipartisan vote. 

 “In God we trust” became America’s national motto in 1956, just two years after “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.  It had been added to the currency and coins of the United States in 1955.  So, for three years running, you could say that God was discussed favorably in the halls of the U.S. Congress. 

 The reason for this was because America was facing communism and its threat to  gain worldwide power.  In the 1950s, this was deadly serious business. 

 Communism was to the 50s generation what radical Islam is to this generation of Americans. 

 The Elvis generation seemed to understand that communism threatened not only America, but western civilization as well.  That included the Judeo Christian principles on which America was founded. 

 If you were to read the pages of the Congressional Record during those years, especially in 1955, (I know no one is crazy enough to do such a thing. But, yes, I have read them and still do from time to time. The Congressional Record can be found in any federal courthouse; they are still being digitized, so you have to read an actual book.) you would discover that Christianity was not only recognized by Congress, it was applauded, defended and honored.

 Here is just a sample of some quotes:

“Our Nation is founded on a fundamental belief in God, and the first and most important reason for the existence of our Government is to protect the God-given rights of our citizens.” ~ Senator Homer Ferguson (R-MI), February 10, 1954

 “Communism has a theory and a practice; it wishes to be not only a state but a church…”  ~ Representative Clyde Doyle (D-CA), as read into the Congressional record, February 12, 1955

 “For under God this nation lives.” ~ Representative Louis Rabaut (D-MI), August 20, 1954

 “What better training for our youngsters could there be than to have them, each time they pledge allegiance to Old Glory, reassert their belief, … in the all-present, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Creator.” ~ Senator Alexander Wiley (R-WI), May 4, 1954

 Today, while attacks rage against the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and while bipartisan votes to reaffirm the national motto barely get a minute’s mention in the news, we would do well to study this era of our history and teach it to our youngsters.  Whether it’s a radicalized version of religion or a political system that takes away individual freedom, America’s heritage, most especially its embrace of Christian religion, is certainly worthy of passing along to the future generation, both for its educational value as well as its ability to renew the American principles that have strengthened us in times past.

Please go to my Facebook page to continue learning about the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Thanks!