I Pledge Allegiance
Recently I attended a fifth grade “graduation” ceremony. Stuffed like sardines into the hot multi-purpose room typical of public schools, proud parents and grandparents grinned and waved as their kids walked across the stage.
The ceremony began with the whole bunch of us standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. In that moment, memories of my first grade classroom rushed at me. There we stood beside our desks and learned to recite those words every morning. Hand over our hearts, turned toward the flag in the corner above our teacher’s desk, we recited the Pledge with great seriousness, understanding it made us part of something much bigger than our own little group.
I was also taken back to the concerts, basketball games and assemblies at my children’s schools during those years when I was a proud parent, feeling grateful that my kids were growing up in a country which promised them the opportunity to choose from many paths.
And now here was another generation saying those same words. The possibility of all that those children would grow up to experience in this “One Nation” felt utterly staggering to me.
While we were celebrating what they’d accomplished, all of us knew that their lives have scarcely begun. These children stand on a precipice, discovering talents which will lead them to successful lives or embracing behaviors which will take them away from their parents’ values. The opportunity to succeed or fail is limitless in this nation committed to “liberty and justice for all.”
In the face of such freedoms, the structure of a few institutions provides a scaffold of security for kids. Even in a world which is smaller by the day, encouraging us to think globally, it’s good to bind ourselves together to the country that guarantees our liberty.
Another generation of children blossoms with possibility in this land of the free. And the grateful tears in the eyes of the adults present speak to the timeless gift of growing up under the protection of such a flag.