by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
September 20, 2005
TRUTHFULLY, NOW: WHAT HAPPENED TO MAJORITY RULE?
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- When Congress okayed adding the words "under God" to our pledge of allegiance to the flag, at the strong urging of President Dwight David Eisenhower, they were not doing it for the "religious right" - we didn't have a "religious right," we only had us, Americans.
The change was not met with everyone's approval; I, for one, thought it stopped the flow, the symmetry of the words, the poetry, the nuance. But, so be it. It wasn't serious enough to make a big deal out of it.
In 1954, when the suggested change was passed into law, we had more to worry about. We were afraid of what we called the Red Menace. We were afraid there were Communists among us wanting to tear down our Republic, where there was liberty and justice for all. The common line was we were afraid of Communists under every bed. I became afraid of the kindly, hard-working man upstairs. He subscribed to The Daily Worker, reportedly a Communist newspaper.
We were so afraid of the godless atheists running the Soviet Union, that Eisenhower added the words "under God" to our pledge as an "in your face" position against them all - sort of flashing a cross in front of a vampire to hasten his demise.
Personally, I didn't think he had any right to suggest it or Congress to approve of it. But now, the hullabaloo over taking the words out and the plan to take it to the Supreme Court to get that done, borders on the ridiculous.
Why can't we just undo what Eisenhower did? Does that sound too simplistic? I liked it better the old way. I would guess that the majority of our citizens would agree. Ask us. Put it to a vote. Which way sounds better?
What a country. Our system of government is based upon the majority rule of the people, by the people and for the people. And yet one man who finds saying the pledge swearing loyalty not only to the Flag but to the Republic for which it stands - can bring the rest of us to our knees (metaphorically speaking) regardless of how we feel about it.
Prayers are personal to me except in public arenas designed for the purpose. I went to parochial schools so the pledge with or without God in the lines was a morning exercise, and since it was normal to say "God is everywhere," it was also normal to assume He would be over the land of the free and home of the brave.
Perhaps if the pledge in its present day wording had been built into our Constitution by the Founding Fathers, I'd fight tooth and nail to leave it untouched. But that isn't the case at all. President Eisenhower was giving into his and our fears when he nudged Congress. We were deeply afraid of the Russians, the threatening Communist empire, the reprehensible Red Menace, and he used God to alleviate those fears. Good old Ike penciled the words in - let's just erase them out. God will not be offended.
There are certain things built into our psyches because they came to us in childhood - our formative years. Respect for the flag is one of those. We never threw an old, tattered flag away, we burned it. We never let the flag touch the ground - "Men have died under that flag," we are reminded, "Treat it with respect."
I would hazard a guess that 95 percent of Americans feel that way. But let one person burn it up or step upon it as a form of protest and the act goes all the way to the Supreme Court in order to protect his rights in exercising a form of "free speech." I didn't hear anything, did you? I saw disgrace and disrespect for the flag we salute for the guarantee of freedom it affords.
There was a time when I could relax after the votes were counted and the Congressman or Senator I helped vote into office took the helm. He or she would travel to Washington and look out for my interests. After all, that was his or her platform on the campaign trail.
I no longer have that confidence. I see those in office looking out for themselves. My best interests are followed only as long as it politically expedient for the incumbent to vote upon them.
Partisan politics is popular today. Those representing us will either reach a hand across the aisle or not reach a hand across it. Do they ever turn around with a wave to the parade of constituents who put them where they are to see what they might want? Do they remember their mandate?
The majority of voters in their district put them in office because they believed the office holder would represent their views. If a popular vote were called on the flag and what it represents - a symbol of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," or a charlatan's cheap trick to bring attention to a cause - then the majority vote would go to peaceful assembly.
Burning bras during the Women's Movement and burning flags against military involvement in unpopular wars, has only highlighted the lunatic fringe of any cause. The resolution has come about with dignity and diplomacy.
Do we want "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance? Why don't we see what the people have to say; the Red, White and Blue people.