Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Pledge

Each morning at my school begins with the students standing for the pledge of allegiance, followed by the singing of a patriotic song. One of the kids in my class belts out the songs with such gusto that some of the other students stare open-mouthed at her. I don’t know if she loves her country that much or if she’s trying to impress me, but her enthusiasm is a beautiful thing, and it makes me smile. Recently, I told a friend about our school’s morning routine, and he said that he could never do it; that he has a problem with the idea of the daily pledge and the jingoism inherent in such songs as “Proud to Be an American.” On a certain level, I can see his point. The irony of compelling children to pledge allegiance to a free nation is not lost on me, but the world isn’t that cut and dry. These kids will hopefully grow up to be free thinkers – people who can decide for themselves what they believe and when they’re being manipulated. For now, I think it’s important for them to have this idealized view of America to believe in – the land of the free and the home of the brave where everyone is truly treated equally, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, political party, or zip code. It's a good frame of mind to start from. As with most things, age will reveal to these kids the cracks in the fa├žade, and they will come to realize that the ideal presented in the pledge and those songs is something to work toward, that what we have is good, but it can be so much better and we’re not there yet. Maybe that’s just my rationalization that gets me through each morning, but I hope it’s not. I’ve said before on this blog that I plan to shelter Violet from the horrors of the real world for as long as I can. It’s the idealized illusions of childhood that make childhood so wonderful, the belief that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real, that Mom and Dad know everything, that you can go through life without lying, and that the America we live in is the same one we sing about each morning.

88 days old


  1. Beautiful! I love this post, Bill! Your pledge really should be published.
    Your children (school and Violet) are so blessed to have you as their teacher. You are wise and wonderful! In these trying days for America, the world, and the environment, you made me proud and hopeful!

  2. I love the "belter outers"! I tend to view that song and other things with a dose of cynicism, but, somehow, in the classroom with all those little faces, I am singing and wanting them to sing and to believe it too.
    The first few times I substitute taught and had a class of my own, I was caught off guard by my emotions in hearing a class full of voices saying the pledge in unison.

  3. Anne - thank you for the extremely kind words, I feel blessed to be the kids' teacher! (But I'm still looking forward to Feb. break)

    Amy - I know exactly what you mean - sometimes I think there should be an age limit on congressmen and women - no one over 12. Kids are so optimistic and oddly practical - they'd probably get a lot more done. I can think of at least two kids in my class I'd vote for.