While Randy is on hiatus recovering from a writing-induced ailment, some friends are taking up the slack. Today’s post is by Penny Mattern.
One thing about living long enough — about three generations’ worth, now, for me — is that you were actually there when you heard and saw things said and done for the first time.
I was in grade school — this was the Eisenhower adminstration — when “under God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag for the first time. Repeating the Pledge with hand on heart was a daily school occurrence, and we all knew it well, having said it in unison day after day, year after year, at the beginning of school.
Then one day the teacher told us that we now had to say “under God” in the pledge and told us where in the pledge to say it. Then we practiced saying it with these new words. I felt consternation — and for me it had nothing to do at the time with any feelings about God or otherwise, although for some in class it did.
I felt: this is the Pledge of Allegiance. It is a set thing, a part of my life, an action that was part of the school day, something with a kind of existence of its own. It was set in some kind of repeated, experiential stone, as much as anything I had met in my short life that far could be.
How could somebody just change it?
It was as unlikely as someone changing the sky to orange at midday, or moved around where the streets ran, or where my house was to be found when I walked home from school.
How can somebody change it?
Scary thought for a kid: what else could be changed, if people could change the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, something we had all been saying all those mornings at school?
I’m not taking a side on the issue of the words themselves (although, as a grownup, I have a strong personal opinion), I’m pointing out the power of words.
Words have huge power. They matter to us in all kinds of ways.
You have the right to state your opinion and ideas, given in the First Amendment.
What I’m hoping to do is to help you state it clearly, spell its words correctly, and reach as many people as possible, credibly, if you publish it on the web.
— Penny Mattern