I pledge allegiance to the Autocrat of the Divided States of America, and to the Oligarchy for which it profits, 50 states under Christ, partible, with oppression and injustice for most.
Wait, wait, wait, a second, that’s not how it goes.
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.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s the one I know by heart.
I said this pledge every single schoolday, and honestly, it was just part of the morning routine. I stared at the flag while the words spilled out by rote — ingrained but not processed. The symbol of all my American freedoms, faded into the background as the teachings of the day took-over. The freedom of education granted to me by the Republic.I was a carefree child of the 90s living in Suburban Philadelphia. My hometown claims that the Glenside 4th of July Parade is the longest continually running parade in America. I always thought it was soo cool that the firetrucks lined up our street before the parade started. It was my parade claim to fame, that was, until the day that State Rep. Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky asked to use our bathroom before she joined the parade. Something my mom still brings up on the reg. She is Chealsea Clinton’s mother-in-law you know. It was an easy parade to join, I was in it more than I ever watched it. Younger years, I decorated my bike with red, white, and blue streamers running through the spokes of my tires and off my handle bars. I felt famous as I waved to my curbside neighbors. As I got older, I pulled a canvas wagon with a painted target to collect change for the parade itself. Cleverly called “Hit the Target”. A participant in what makes America great from a young age. Through the eyes of a child, the flag was little more than a toy or decoration. Something to wave around in a parade, or stick in your lawn in case a politician swings by. The power of the American Flag, this symbol of freedom, was not fully understood by me during the innocence of my adolescence. My understanding and respect for the flag really clicked when I became a Girl Scout. I was always so excited to be part of the color guard during the Flag Ceremony. Something only 4-6 girls got to do at the start of the meetings. The best job was being the Caller, not the Flag Bearer. Although everyone had to take a turn being the lowly Color Guard flanking the Flag Bearer. Little did 4th Grader MP know, but I was learning proper flag protocol. There is a lot of procedure and rules for the flag ceremony, but none more important than respecting the flag. Many people know the basics of US Flag Code, even if they don’t know there is a such thing as a flag code (US Code Title 4 Chapter 1). Rules like someone died if its flown at half mast, standing with your hand on your heart during the Pledge and Anthem, and the fact that there are 13 stripes. (Fun fact side note, it also folds 13 times when folded into the proper triangle.) Admittedly, I know more about flag etiquette than most thanks to my upbringing. But I thought most of the things in the code are common sense. Like the time I had a run-in with my local university maintenance man who had the old flag he was replacing laying in the mulch. Yes, I stopped my bike and picked it up and handed it to him and told him not to let it touch the ground. The one rule that people love to break is the part about not wearing the flag as apparel. Nothing says “America” like beer bellied bro tank in American Flag swim trunks. The beach towels particularly bother me because they look exactly like an actual flag, and their main use is for either laying on the ground or drying your ass after a dip in the ocean. Alas, the crime is not punishable. Luckily for all you proud patriots, the supreme court ruled that desecrating the flag is protected under the First Amendment as it represents symbolic speech. So while you’re free to burn the flag in protest, please reserve flag burning to honorable flag disposal only. Now if my dad is reading this, he is probably saying by now, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, I am the one who raised her to love and respect the flag.” Which is true, the Girl Scouts don’t get all the credit for my passion of the flag. My dad is someone to emulate when it comes to honoring our countries colors. A man who enlisted in the Navy during Vietnam, and had his uniform spit on for doing so. He saw his peers burning the flag he signed on to protect. When I was a teen I loved 70s music and would say how cool it must have been to experience that decade first hand. My dad would quickly remind me how unglamorous those times were due to the unrest in the country. Now in his retirement. He continues to serve the flag as the Service Officer of his local American Legion Post. Did you know the American Legion helped write the Flag Code back in 1923, but didn’t become law until 1942? My dad proudly raises the Legion flag every morning, and lowers it every night (until they get lights for the flag). He even gets my nieces in on the act; making Old Glory significant to them at a young age. The same lessons I was taught as a kid. Its no wonder I get so emotional when I think about what the American Flag means to me. A symbol so powerful that it is considered speech, for better or for worse. But as someone who is passionate about those 50 stars and 13 stripes, I have one request as we enter the most patriotic holiday of the year, please respect the flag.