I’m Glad There’s a Pledge of Allegiance Day

Dec 26, 2015

Xianna Michaels Flower Mandala

Did you know that December 28th is Pledge of Allegiance Day? Did you know there was such a thing? Well, neither did I, but I’m glad there is. That’s because, as adults, we don’t get much opportunity to think about — let alone recite — the Pledge, do we? We get to sing the national anthem at major happenings like sporting events and presidential debates (which may be said to have other things in common as well, but that’s another story.) But when do we get to recite the Pledge?

When we were children, we recited it every morning in school. We didn’t necessarily contemplate it, but it was a sacred ritual. We didn’t necessarily understand all the words, but we knew it by heart. We might even have been certain, until the fifth grade, that it said ” one nation, invisible…”, but it didn’t matter. What we knew, maybe from our parents, maybe from our teachers, maybe just from breathing the air, was that it was a privilege to live in the United States, and that pledging allegiance was something we were proud to do.

In the neighborhood where I spent my young childhood, most of the kids had similar backgrounds. Our parents were first generation Americans, our fathers had fought in the War, and almost none of the grandparents spoke English. They spoke either Yiddish or Italian. I remember there was one Presbyterian family on our block. The grandparents spoke English; I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept. To me all grandparents came over in steerage from places they didn’t want to talk about, so their children and grandchildren could walk down the street without fear, could be assured of enough to eat, could call themselves American.

My husband had a very different background. His parents were Holocaust survivors and he was born in South America. When his mother went into labor with him, she walked to the hospital with her hands in the air so the soldiers wouldn’t shoot her; there was a revolution going on and she was breaking curfew. My husband came here when he was eleven and became a citizen at sixteen. His appreciation for the flag of the United States is visceral, because he knows all too well what its absence can mean.

Pledge of Allegiance Day is not a federal holiday. The banks won’t be closed, nor will the post office. There won’t be fireworks and barbecues, nor many turkey dinners with all the trimmings. But we do have an American flag flying next to our front door, and I will just stand there on December 28th with my hand on my heart, and quietly recite the pledge. And that will be enough.