On Veteran’s Day, this particular liberal feminist discussed with her son the pledge of allegiance and the history of our flag.
He’s a Cub Scout, and it’s part of what he is learning to earn his Bear badge. We did this while waiting for another Scout family to arrive so we could enjoy a bar-b-cue.
Scouting is a tradition in our family. I grew up going to scout events with my brothers. We had many a den meeting in our home. I’ve participated in Girl Scouts and Explorer Scouts while working at a Scout camp. I grew up in the country, attending a Baptist Church. I was a poor white girl who got made fun of for wearing the same outfits far too often and coming to school with hay in my hair. I rode horses, raised sheep, goats, chickens, and practiced shooting at a hay bails with my dad and brother. I have pretty conservative roots.
Anyway, while discussing the pledge, we looked up every important word. We talked about why it matters that we live in a republic. We discussed what liberty means, what justice means, and just how important the “for all” part is.
a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch
- the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.
the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
conformity to truth, fact, or reason
I explained to him that it’s important to understand what he is pledging to and why.
It was cute, at first, when he said the flag represented God. God is the ultimate greater power. I can’t fault him for associating God with the flag he pledges to each morning and at every Scout meeting.
I’m not religious myself. My husband is the one who has taken our son to church, and who insists on prayer. We respect each other’s beliefs and our son gets to decide for himself. We both answer our son’s questions to the best of our ability.
But I had to nip this misunderstanding in the bud. Our flag does not represent God. I explained to him that in our county there is separation between church and state. People came here to practice their religions as they wished. (Granted they took the land from those who were here first, but that’s something I will have to explain to him later.) Our government and the church are separate for good reason.
We then looked up information about Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. We talked about what, to me, are the most important words in the sonnet, The New Colossus. (my kiddo was getting fidgety by this point so I had to cut to the chase.)
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,”
We are a nation of immigrants. (Except the indigenous peoples, of course.) Of all colors, nationalities, races and religions. I’ve been told we can trace our immigration to this country on my father’s side to a stowaway from Germany, or possibly Russia. We’re not even sure. So one of my ancestors likely came here illegally. I’m not ashamed of this fact.
I am honored to be able to say that members of my family have fought for the freedoms we enjoy. I am proud of them and respect their sacrifice. My brother and grandfather are those closest to me who have served.
America is great.
Though I have to admit, I miss that heart thumping, teary excitement I used to get at patriotic events.
There is much I see in our country that is very upsetting to me. I feel jaded, betrayed, and hurt. I cannot feel proud of how America represents itself to the world. I am not proud of the willful pride, ignorance, hostility, and arrogance we currently project.
And I cannot stand by and just accept the fact the our president-elect disrespected so many of us, openly, blatantly, and to cheering masses. I take issue with what he has said, what he has promised to do to our country.
I know there is a great many people who agree with me. The majority, it would seem.
This is OUR America. This is still MY America.
I will defend our right to protest. I will join in when I’m able. I will do my best to speak up for those whose life and liberty are being threatened.
I will not act out in violent ways if it can be helped, and I ask others to do the same. Several women I know personally have already been threatened, groped or harassed thanks to the dangerous rhetoric of this election. I already carry pepper spray. I will be looking into self-defense classes.
We are living in a revolutionary time. Be safe, my friends, my fellow women, my neighbors, and family members. Do not give up. Do not give in.
I will do my part to help those I can.
I am one of those threatened by the current issues in our country. So if I’m not able to speak up or act as needed, I apologize deeply in advance. I am flawed. I am also scared. But I will do the best I can to stand up for what is right.