Let’s Upgrade Our Pledge of Allegiance

For 129 years our school children have saluted the flag and recited a pledge of allegiance to the United States of America. It began in 1892 in honor of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. By 1935 half the states had laws requiring instruction in respect for the US flag and nine states required the flag ceremony in their schools.1

Mascot Owl Wings Out

Maybe, we made a mistake. Our children attend school about 180 days a year for 12 years and each day we have caused them to recite this pledge: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, …”. Thus we have for generations demanded that our children repeat this pledge at least 2,000 times, each time focusing their attention on the United States of America.

There Are 51 Constitutions

Now, I love our nation, and our flag, and especially the US Constitution. In fact, I personally believe that the creation of that document was an act of God. So please do not misunderstand what I am trying to say here. I am asking these questions: “Have we indoctrinated ourselves to look first to the federal government with all our political woes, when we should have looked first to our cities and counties? Have we created this governmental monster ourselves? Have we constantly overlooked the purpose of the Constitution of the United States when we should have looked first to our other fifty constitutions?”

Remember; the thirteen nation-states created the US Constitution using the authority of their independent, pre-existing constitutions. I think that fact should permeate all of our political machinations.

We Have Trained Ourselves to Look First to the Federal Government

And we all do it. When we see a problem we think, “The government should do something about this.” We are thinking of the federal government, and our first inclination is to write to our Representative and/or Senator in the federal Congress. It’s not just the pledge of allegiance, we all want the most effective solution available, and the US government is mistakenly thought of as the one that should carry the big stick. Thus we have repeatedly, and for 240 years asked our federal government to solve our problems. And it has been way too happy to comply. We now have a behemoth that is almost beyond control.

Our representatives in Congress love to tell us all the wonderful interventions they have made in our freedom in order to solve our collective problems. And now we are wondering how it could happen that it has forced an experimental medicine upon us while prohibiting several time-tested prescriptions that have been proved safe for decades. Well, that’s the Pharma-government combination – a topic for another day. Remember laws always restrict freedom.

We are United Nations

Meanwhile, the fact is, we are fundamentally a republic of sovereign states [our founders used “nation” and “state” as synonyms], cooperating only to address issues that only such a body could address, like national defense, and a place at the tables where the nations of the earth gather to talk about common issues. Certainly, we could help correct our misguided thinking by changing our flag ceremonies to remind us where our allegiances should lie.

And where should they lie? Forget about politics and government for a moment. Our top priority is our loved ones. In most cases, our allegiances will go something like this: spouse, children, the neighbor next door, extended family, our fellow townsmen, and those of our county, state, and nation. Our pledge of allegiance should reflect that.

Our Pledge of Allegiance Should Begin This Way

I am a certified substitute teacher for United School District 446 which runs the public schools in Independence, Kansas. Every school day, we stand together and salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Well, most of us do. I see several students who don’t but that is freedom at work.

I woke up this morning at 4:30, as I often do with political solutions running through my mind. This time, the solution was that our daily pledge of allegiance in USD 446 should sound like this:

“I pledge allegiance to the City of Independence, and to Montgomery County, and to the sovereign State of Kansas, and to the United States, and to the Republic for which they stand; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

US, Missouri, and City of StLouis flags

Pictured here are the flags of the United State, the State of Missouri, and the City of St Louis. The idea of four flags and the naming of the four jurisdictions they represent is a bit cumbersome perhaps, but a small price to pay to re-orient our thinking to look first to the lowest jurisdiction for political answers. My city is, after all, the jurisdiction where I have the best chance to change things the way I want them. The fact that my city doesn’t even have a flag is a reminder that as a people, we do not recognize the power we hold in our hands. Every city and county should have its own flag, a symbolic reminder of its unique position in the hierarchy of “government for the people, by the people.”

There are others who agree with this. For example, Samuel B. Pettengill, former Congressman from Indiana said, “I object to court­houses and city halls that do not fly the flag of their own state along with Old Glory.”

What We Can Do Now

We can start right here, in my hometown, to re-orient ourselves and our children to see our government in the light that illuminated the founders of the greatest governmental idea in the history of the world. We can begin to look for solutions in the lowest possible jurisdiction. That’s how the founders wanted it and after centuries of trying it the other way, we should seriously consider doing it the way the founders thought it would work.

If you like this idea, attend your school board meeting, get some local support, send the idea to your County Commissioners and your State Representative and State Senator. Every voice helps.

1 Ryman, H.M. and Alcorn, J.M. (n.d.). Pledge of Allegiance. [online] www.mtsu.edu. Available at: https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1137/pledge-of-allegiance.

Jackson Pemberton
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