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The Solemn Oath: Understanding The Pledge Of Allegiance

1137 words - 5 pages

Have you ever thought about what it truly means to be a patriotic American? Does a patriotic American simply support his country no matter what the cause; or does this patriot passionately reprimand his country’s injustices, no matter how small or big? Consider the Pledge of Allegiance. This oath of loyalty binds us as Americans and should unite us. The keyword being unite, for the essay I’ll respond to thinks otherwise. Indeed, Gwen Wilde is against the inclusion of a certain phrase: “Under God.” Her primary belief being that the phrase in the Pledge is, as she puts it, “needlessly divisive.” Is she right? I believe she is, for the Pledge as it stands today is discriminatory and you’ll soon find out why.
We first look to Gwen’s essay entitled “Why the Pledge of Allegiance Should Be Revised.” The main idea is her rejection of the words “Under God” included in the Pledge of Allegiance. She adamantly believes it to be divisive, and even un-American. With this in mind, she begins her essay by providing us with a little history on the matter. It’s explained to us that the Pledge did not originally include the aforementioned phrase, and in fact contained no reference to any deity. As Gwen believes, the inclusion of the phrase is “an odd addition indeed to a Nation that is said to be ‘indivisible’.” She questions what it means to be a patriotic American. According to her, patriotic Americans aren’t all religious. An important note to her, as she then goes on mention how silence during the Pledge can lead to accusations of being unpatriotic. These accused are, as Gwen says, “somehow not fully an American, maybe even un-American.” Yet her argument is not so much about the constitutionality of the Pledge; an assumption she specifically refutes in her essay. She then switches her focus and responds to people who regard the matter as trivial and inconsequential. Specifically she responds to Chief Justice Rehnquist, who considers the matter to be an “unwarranted extension of the establishment clause.” However, she takes special exception to what the Chief Justice believes to be a “commendable patriotic observance.” It’s here where we get to the heart of the matter for Gwen believes everyone should be able to partake in this patriotic activity. She challenges the notion that the whole affair is of little worth and importance. To wrap up her essay she once more stresses the importance of having a Pledge; a Pledge that, according to Gwen, “everyone can say, say out loud, and say with pride.”
Gwen’s essay raises interesting points I feel should be looked at in more detail. For one, what does the Pledge mean to us as Americans? I think it’s safe to say that the Pledge is a device through which we affirm the most basic of American ideals: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet the oath as we know it today is, as Gwen put it, “divisive.” For America as a Nation has an even more basic ideal: Unity. Our Nation was, after all, founded through the union...

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