The City Council of Eugene, Oregon rejected a proposal to pledge allegiance to the Flag at the start of the Council meetings. After extensive deliberations it voted a compromise, a compromise which can display the worse of political compromises. The Pledge may be made at four council meetings a year, those preceding the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Flag Day.
But not this 4th of July – it is too soon.
Mayor Kitty Piercy called the Pledge of Allegiance “divisive.”
One Council member, Betty Taylor, “compared saying the Pledge of Allegiance to reading from the Communist Manisfesto.”
Berkeley has a reputation for being far-left, but even Berkeley is not this insane.
As we celebrate America’s independence on the Fourth of July, we do so with the exceptionalism and greatness of America. We celebrate not only the birth of America, but the American Spirit.
We pledge allegiance to the Flag - not to a political party, not to the government, not to a religion, not to the President, not to a king or queen, not to an ism, but to the Flag, which represents America.
America is different; it is the melting pot of the world.
We are not of one religion or ethnicity. We are not a race; nor of one skin color. Our ancestors, with the exception of the slaves, came to America to pursue a dream, the dream of a better life unavailable to them or their children in the old country.
We come from all continents, including Australia. We have always been a peoples of immigrants.
The Roman Empire embraced many, but it was still essentially Roman. The British Empire also welcomed the peoples of the Empire, but it was still a country of the Brits.
We are Anglo-Saxons, Irish, Italians, Greeks, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Scandinavians, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Iraqi and Persian, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic. We are all of these, but not of one for we are Americans.
We know our roots. We know where our parents emigrated from, but we are Americans.
The Flag is the unifying symbol of America.
The 13 stripes and 50 stars represent the unity and spirit of America - the 13 original colonies and the 50 states. It is also a symbol of freedom and decency.
The Flag flew from Fort McHenry and in the rubble of 9/11. It flies from our ships, is painted on our planes, worn by our military. It became the symbol of Northerners during the Civil War and has remained the symbol of America.
America has other symbols, especially Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam, but they are not the Flag.
It precedes by decades the Statute of Liberty, a wonderful, symbolic gift of the people of France.
Councilman George Brown voted against even the compromise because “It really doesn’t help move the city’s business forward. It does not unite us.”
Pledging Allegiance to the Flag and singing the Star Spangled Banner before athletic events does not improve the athletes’ performance, but that’s not the reason we do it.
We pledge allegiance to the flag before sporting events to affirm the unity of the country and our love for America. It says who we are.
We are sufficiently strong as a people and country that we protect the constitutional rights of protestors to burn the flag. We don’t like it, but we tolerate it.
The symbolism of the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag is even more critical since an increasing number of communities are ending their 4th of July Parades and Fireworks for budgetary reasons.
Has Eugene not learnt anything from the Portland, Oregon Fire Department in March 2003? The Deputy Fire Chief ordered removal of the American flags from fire trucks for fear of inciting anti war demonstrators. The fire chief countermanded him the next day after a flood of protests.