With America’s Independence Day weekend nearly upon us, I’ve been thinking about a word we don’t often use in our everyday vernacular: allegiance.
According to Webster, allegiance means loyalty. A quality that does seem to be a smidge anemic in our current It’s-All-About-Me culture.
I think back on my childhood when we pledged allegiance to our nation’s flag every school morning; when our teachers and parents taught us what it meant to be loyal to our country, our constitution, our Bill of Rights, and the ideals of freedom and democracy our country was founded on. We belted out “God Bless America,” “You’re a Grand Ole Flag,” and “Here’s to the Red, White, and Blue” at every turn. Didn’t matter if your people were Democrats or Republicans; we all joined hands and hearts and sang our lungs inside out through pride in our country.
I saw my WWII and Korean War veteran father stand in respect, remove his hat and place it over his heart every time the National Anthem played, whether live or on TV. I, too, learned to stop wherever I was, stop talking, stand and salute the flag whenever the first bold notes of The Star Spangled Banner resounded. I’m guessing you did that too, my friend – am I right?
My third grade teacher was a Hispanic immigrant-turned-citizen who loved America passionately. She was jubilantly grateful for every single freedom and every wonderful opportunity offered by her beloved adopted country. She gushed American pride more than anyone I knew. She taught us the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish so that each morning after we stood with our hands over our hearts and recited the Pledge in English, her soft, accented, “En Espanol” would cue us to recite it again in her native language. I remember seeing tears glistening in her eyes as 30 kiddos valiantly tried to wrap their stiff little tongues around the rolled rrrr’s and u’s that sounded like oooh’s.
Would you believe that to this very day, 50something years later (don’t do the math), I still remember it? Yup. Wanna hear it? Promise not to laugh?
Okay, now, no disrespect intended to my wonderful Hispanic friends because I know some of these likely aren’t even real words because I’m spelling it phonetically, the way I learned it orally when I was 8 years old, having never seen it actually written. So please forgive my many mistakes. I mean well.
En Espanol. (I simply must put my hand over my heart and say this first or I can’t recall the next line.)
Huro fedaly da a la bandara de los Ustados Unidos de America.
En la Republica que representa, un nacion de baho Dios,
Indivicible con libreta, y justicia para todos.
Well, I tried. Could you follow? Third grade was a l-o-n-g time ago. Would one of my dear, unoffended amigas please tell me if I was anywhere close to making sense?
Anyhow, my point is that allegiance was important then and it’s important now.
Maybe we could all intentionally try to instill a little more loyalty and respect for our flag and our country in ourselves, our children and our grandchildren this Independence Day. I’m game. Are you?
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