When I entered school, we all all stood up and said the Allegiance to the Flag.
Growing up in the Sunshine State, multi-culturism & cultural diversity existed before these catch phrases really caught on.
We All Stood. Black, white, latino, christian, pagan, jewish...we all stood.
At the beginning of school, we were given the purple words on a ditto sheet & told to memorize them.
It was like the first taste of homework. I took the ditto home & had Momma help me understand the big words.
Propaganda? Politics in the classroom?
In my World, it was like a prayer.
At the end, I muttered 'Amen.'
Vietnam was still going on, the TV static was filled with it. So was the neighborhood and I scantily listened.
There was a house around the corner, we called it 'The Flag House.' This guy had every cubic inch saturated with stars and stripes. He had 100's of flags. He was a Vietnam Vet & we were still fighting.
Neighbors made fun of him, TV reporters would stand on the street illuminating his house in the darkness and festering around it, like flies on a carcass, by day.
People didn't like it, this flag house, but I did.
It was confusing to me...why would the city, the reporters, the neighbors have issue with this house?
5 year olds do not have years of wisdom & education under their belt, but...
In My World, 'republic' meant that us people, us Americans, us individuals had a say in Our World. In My World, 'indivisible' meant individuals together...like trees in the outskirts of our yard. All alone but all together. In My World, 'liberty & justice for all' meant freedom.
Wasn't he one individual in our Republic? Didn't he have a say? Weren't we really indivisible...each of us little trees in the forrest of America? Couldn't we let him alone? As sure as Molly had cats & Mrs. B had roses, this guy should have his flags...in my mind.
In My World, of course, it was not an eyesore...I loved the primary colors, the stars, stripes, the banners & flags. In My World, it was pretty and city zoning was something I didn't know about.
I was proud to have been one that got to see 'The Flag House' first hand. I felt priviledged & blessed. At school, the other kids just talked about it.
In My World, Mrs. Stafford was free to let her hair go blue & Miss Vicki was free to go bra-less, Mrs. M was free to paint her house orange & dye her hair blonde, Mr. Plumber was free to have a shower curtain with naked people on it in his work van, the lake boys were free to paint flowers and peace signs all over their VW and this guy should be free to have his flags.
Four years later, I was in 3rd grade, and we had a boy who refused to say the pledge & refused to stand. He said his Daddy told him he didn't have to. It was 1976 & Vietnam was over. The teacher asked him to just be quiet, if he wasn't going to participate.
I thought 'You are so lucky to be in America & you don't even know it. You could have a basket on your head, a bony bloated baby strapped to your back, callousses on your feet, with rocky unhospitable ground to cover, be nearly naked with flies on your eyeballs because its the only water around...'
I realized at the moment, thinking about him & all the National Geographics I'd seen... and my own petty, little experiences & mental connections, that I was not proud to be an American, I was relieved.
And so I just kept on saying 'Amen' after the Allegiance.
Even though I'd been told it wasn't a prayer, I just knew better.
3 months ago