Letter to the Editor
Marloee Smith, Candidate for Port Angeles City Council
I would like to clarify why I do not speak the words to the pledge, although I do stand, respectfully. When I was in my early years of grade school I had a friend. Her religion forbade her from uttering the pledge. She was ridiculed for not doing so by the teacher and most of the class. It upset her greatly, as she was trying to be both true to her religion, and be like the rest of us. In solidarity, I stopped repeating the pledge and stood silently next to her.
She was my friend, and what part of “freedom” involves being forced to say a poem? Why didn’t she have the freedom to remain silent? It made no sense to my young mind.
I was sent to the principal’s office for this. I was told that if I did not “say it” I would be expelled. I was standing up for what I believed was right, for HER freedom of religion. The school district sided with me.
In fact, in 1943 (two decades before) the Supreme Court (Justice Robert H. Jackson) wrote: “To believe patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions.”
Mark Twain said that reciting a patriotic pledge was treason. He said it was equivalent to saying, “my country, right or wrong” which he considered to be the worst form of treason. He said “it is betraying our responsibility to speak out when we think our country is making a mistake”.
The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy (who also invented the “Bellamy salute”, later adopted by the Nazi’s) for a one time use to promote the sale of flags to schools, in 1892. It was written for the 400th anniversary of Columbus landing in the Bahamas. He sold hundreds of flags. It wasn’t adopted as a classroom ritual for more than 30 years, to help indoctrinate the newly immigrated. The “under god” was added in the 1950’s.
To pledge an allegiance to a piece of cloth symbolizing a federation of states under a republic system of government something most of the free world considers a strange habit. (We are alone in this requirement, with the exception of North Korea, who also requires children pledge daily allegiance, oddly enough, they copied it from us.)
It seems exclusionary to say “one nation under god” when there are many religions, and freedom of religion is a basic founding principal of our country. Freedom of religion, freedom of expression – cannot be possible when we fail to guarantee freedom from coercion and the freedom to remain, respectfully, silent.
My family came to America in 1640. My family fought in the revolution. They stood alongside the heroic founders of the country, sat in Tammany Hall, and believed, strongly in liberty and freedom. I am patriotic. I am loyal to the United States.
I live consciously. I want my words to have meaning. And, I want my actions to speak loudly.
My daily oath is to uphold the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and what is right, just, and fair in the world. I am not ashamed that I stand silent. I believe we should have the freedom to remain silent, or to recite the pledge.
But, no one should be coerced, chided, or ridiculed for their beliefs.
Outgoing city council member, Dan Gase was disrespectful and crass when he asked me, at the PABA meeting why I did not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
It is something very personal. His insinuation is insulting.