We went to a school event a few weeks ago, and for the first time in many, many years, I stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s been so long since I recited the Pledge that I really don’t even remember when it would have been. I know the words by heart:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which is stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
But then, I also know the McDonald’s Big Mac lyrics by heart: Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. Anyway…
I have to say, it felt weird saying the Pledge. I didn’t know that the school kids say it every morning, and I didn’t expect it to come up in a school function in the auditorium. I’ve been to several meetings at school, for one function or another, but we’ve never had to say the Pledge. It felt weird, in a way like I was joining a cult.
I’ve never been a joiner. I’ve even turned down many offers to join online groups, guilds, clans, etc. for various games. Joining anything in any kind of official way feels weird to me.
In the school function, when the principal announced for everyone to stand and recite the Pledge, I just did it without even thinking. I put my hand over my heart and everything, I guess out of the habit I learned in childhood, in school? I don’t remember saying the Pledge in school. I don’t remember when or where I ever said it. Obviously, though, I have said it, enough times that it comes to mind automatically when I’m prompted.
But right after, I felt a pang of oddness. “I pledge allegiance….” I love America. I love being an American. If trouble ever came to America, I’d naturally, both instinctively and with consideration, side with America. But standing up and pledging allegiance feels cultish.
Maybe it’s from having read/watched too many stories in which brainwashed people pledge their lives to some symbol or person. I can’t think of any stories in which someone having to pledge their allegiance turned out as anything good.
Well, I don’t expect anyone will be coming to my house to make me join anything based on the fact that I recited the Pledge at a school function. I don’t think it automatically conscripts me into the military. I’ll just go on living my life as a loose and free American.