"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."
Originally composed by a gentleman by name of Francis Bellamy in 1892, Congress adopted this statement in 1942 as our official pledge. I envy the man who could put so much heart and soul into so few words. That one sentence, pledged by school children across the nation every morning, says so much about what this great nation of ours stands for. In this time of so much political strife, I feel like many have lost site of the basic tenets of being an American. Despite personal politics, some things remain indisputable fact when considering the country we live in.
Good people enter the United States, often illegally, in search a life without fear or persecution. They are willing to risk arrest, jail and living with the constant fear of deportation just for the chance to have a little of what we have.
We are free to pledge our nation, our religion, our deity, anything we want without fear for our lives.
The Constitution guarantees our right to speak our minds on any of a plethora of topics without worry of persecution, legal ramifications or...in some cases, death.
People- thousands of men, women, husbands, brothers, sisters, wives, sons, daughters- have bravely fought and given their lives for our freedom to live our lives as we so choose. They did not die as Democrats or Republicans or Tea Party members or Catholics or Protestants or Muslims or gay or straight. They freely gave their lives as Americans fighting for what they believed in and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Americans fighting for freedom goes back as far as the early settlers landing on the shores of the New World. The concept of remembering the fallen and revering the American soldier became a national activity shortly after the Civil War with the Institution of Decoration Day to commemorate fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. That is the day that we now know as Memorial Day.
Beaches open, pools across the nation shed their covers and BBQ's in every state fire up. Memorial Day means summer has freed us from the clutches of winter...and so much more.
It is my personal opinion that we should always thank our active duty military for their service. I am so patriotic that the National Anthem brings tears to my eyes. I don't need a national holiday to be grateful to our service members for the sacrifices they and their families make to ensure my freedoms.
On Memorial Day, however, I will pay my respects to those that fought the good fight on my behalf and made the ultimate sacrifice. I will bow my head in tribute and never, ever forget what they gave up for me and mine. I will teach my children that freedom is not free and that they should never, ever take it for granted.
On this, the proud successor of Decoration Day, I challenge each and every one of you to do the same.