I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States Of America. And to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God…… wait a second.. what does any of this even mean?
If you were at all like me as a kid growing up (hopefully not too much like me, that’d be a scary sight 🙂 ), I’m sure you spent a few minutes in school every morning on your feet before the flag, still in a half-asleep trance, reciting “The Pledge”. As the years went on, I began to realize that I could recite this patriotic collection of 36 words backwards, forwards, inside out and upside down. However, I soon began to wonder– What does it all mean? Does one piece of colorful rectangular fabric really have the authority to command my undivided loyalty and absolute allegiance?
“Of course!” I decided, “I must do what any true scholar would do in this sort of life-defining situation!” — so I Googled it.
After countless seconds of extensive research, I finally stumbled upon the vast and infinite wisdom of none other than the great Wikipedia. Apparently, the first American flag was originally created on June 14th 1777, just one short year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. As I’m sure most Americans know, it consisted of a field of 13 stars arranged in a circle in a field of blue, surrounded on 2 sides by 13 stripes, alternating between red and white. The American flag has been changed 26 times since its inception, with the addition of additional stars for each new state that has since acceded to the Union. However, despite all of its changes, the American flag has managed to retain its trademark red, white, and blue colors.
Although there have never been any official statements as to what exactly the colors of the flag are meant to symbolize, certain traditions have attributed the colors to a few widely accepted meanings. For example, it is generally accepted that the red in the flag stripes represents the blood shed by our military in defense of our great country and its freedoms. The white is attributed to America’s supposed purity, and the blue represents truth and a dedication to justice.
I must admit, for years I guess I was probably pretty guilty of just trying to be cool without ever really knowing what I was saying. I mean — everyone else is saying The Pledge, I guess I should jump on the bandwagon too, right?
All jokes aside, I’m glad I finally got the chance to realize what that rectangular piece of fabric really stands for. No longer am I simply “pledging allegiance to the flag”, I am instead pledging allegiance to the brave men and women who gave that flag to me, and pledging allegiance to the noble virtues and values it represents.