How a Vet Ignited My Love for America
“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America.”
If you are American, you have already said to yourself the second line of the Pledge of Allegiance. At least that is how it is so for me. I can recite the Pledge of Allegiance in my sleep. Why?
At school when I was a kid, every morning we would stand up, face the American flag in front of our classroom, put our hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think anything of it. It was just something you did at school. When you were a kid. It stopped in 6th grade, if my memory serves me correctly.
I only thought something was “wrong” with the Pledge of Allegiance after sharing with my Czech friend my experience as a youth with the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Wow,” one friend exclaimed, “even the Russians didn’t make us do that.”
This was someone that spent the first 15 years of his life under communism. Resources were limited, rights were denied, and they were forced to be true patriots or risk dying. Russian and Czech flags had to be hung or you were considered unpatriotic and that was never worth risking…
I didn’t think much of it at first, I was just glad that I didn’t live in America and was no longer being brain washed by the Pledge.
Life takes its turns, and four years ago I found myself living in the States again after being gone for 10 years. I built a business, started networking, and found community.
In our Toastmaster meetings, every Friday morning, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I did it the first few times, but I really didn’t want to. As I continued to look at myself, I realized I was suppressing my want to not say the Pledge. It wasn’t an expression of who I am. I wasn’t being myself.
America is great. But I don’t pledge myself to a flag or a country. I don’t pledge myself to a government. I pledge myself to the citizens of the world. To everybody.
I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
I still stood with my friends and respectfully faced the flag. I didn’t put my hand to my heart and I didn’t say anything.
I am a citizen of the world.
As of late, I have begun a very interesting inquiry into my life. I noticed that I had this weird distaste for women. I had very few women friends.
I grew up with brothers. I was always one of the boys. Girls were lame and gross. They wore pink.
Then I moved to Europe when I was 19 because “I couldn’t stand America.” I used to tell people I was from Canada or just hang out with Czechs and not speak English.
When I moved back to the States, people noticed this embarrassment I had to being American. They would say I was anti-American.
Here I am. A woman. An American. Two things about me that will NEVER change. And I hate those two things?
I made a declaration. In 2016 I will look at myself and discover what it is to be a woman and an American.
One thing that comes with inquiry is sharing that inquiry with other people. I was hanging out with my new friend Connor, who was in the military for 7 years, and I chose to share with him.
It terrified me. Imagine, telling a vet who was in the industry as little as 4 years ago, that people find me anti-American.
I love it how, whenever I am vulnerable with somebody, no matter how scared I am, it always works out in end. More often than not, the person I am sharing with is left inspired. That is where miracles happen.
Connor was inspired by my declaration to discover what it is to be an American. I shared with him my views about the Pledge of Allegiance and he said, “Let me show you something.”
He showed me Red Skelton’s explanation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
What got me is that “freedom is everybody’s job” and that our flag represents freedom.
Connor shared with me how he viewed America.
“It isn’t the government I fight for. It is for freedom.”
He showed me another video explaining our national anthem.
After I watched this one, I was moved to tears.
That is what America is about. Freedom. Our founding fathers fought and died for freedom. For a government that is run by the people, for the people. They waved that flag despite fighting the biggest empire in the world, and they won, against all odds. (No wonder we love the movie Independence Day!)
That is a country that I love. One that stands for freedom. For everybody.
Connor completely shifted my view of what it is to be American.
I am a woman of the Wild West. I am an explorer, an adventurer. Someone who is asking questions. I stand for freedom. I am American.
Now that my view of America and our flag, and our history, has shifted, I know next time I get the opportunity, I will be proudly pledging my allegiance for freedom for everyone.
Thank you Connor, not only for fighting for and being a stand for freedom, but for also helping shift my perspective and see what America really is all about.