Archive for Thursday, July 24, 2008

U.S. lacking in practicing patriotism

July 24, 2008

Between Flag Day in June and the Fourth of July, there is a lot of patriotic fervor. Yet, as is the case with all holidays, after the day passes, the fervor diminishes. Personally, I believe that patriotism is something that needs to be practiced every day of the year!

Being a young child during World War II, patriotism was something that we were taught and something that became ingrained in us. When the national anthem was played, you took off your cap, you put your hand over your heart and you stood quietly. You proudly said the Pledge of Allegiance. Respect for country was demanded and there was absolutely no tolerance of anything less.

It seems to me that this respect for the flag and patriotism started to wane during the Vietnam era's anti-war protests. While respect for flag and country has started to increase, it has a long ways to go.

One of my pet peeves is that men don't take off their caps during the playing of the national anthem. One young man explained to me that they wear ball caps so much, they aren't aware that they have them on. That might be a factor but maybe we should steal a page from the Kansas City Royals announcer who reminds people to remove their caps and stand quietly during the national anthem. I remember that in times past, I saw a video clip where a riot at a basketball game was stopped when the band played the national anthem. That would never happen today.

I was surprised to find that having a national anthem for the United States is relatively new. Everyone knows that the words to the "Star-Spangled Banner" were penned by Francis Scott Key who was a prisoner and on board a British war ship in Baltimore harbor during a battle in the War of 1812. During the night of Sept. 13-14, 1814, he viewed the battle of Fort McHenry and was overjoyed to see the U.S. flag still flying and the fort in American hands.

Key's poem was later sung to the tune of an old British drinking song, "Anacreon in Heaven." When I was in Australia years ago, I got some good natured teasing about our national anthem being a drinking song.

"The Star Spangled Banner" did not become the U.S. national anthem until the 20th century. President Herbert Hoover signed the congressional act officially naming the "Star Spangled Banner" as the national anthem on March 3, 1931. I have read there was a lot of controversy over the selection. Some wanted "America the Beautiful" as the national anthem, while those from the Civil War favored "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" among other songs. In my opinion Congress made the right choice.

The Pledge of Allegiance has often been in the center of a firestorm of controversy. Some believe that it should not be used in public school or at public meetings. I really don't see what the problem is with saying the pledge. Locally, I know that at Bonner Springs High School and Clark Middle School, the Pledge of Allegiance is used on Mondays. The Bonner Springs City Council starts its meeting with the pledge. To me, the Pledge of Allegiance is merely reaffirming my belief in our country and what it stands for. North Carolina recently enacted legislation requiring use of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. It is unfortunate that affirming faith in our country is a problem for some people.

According to sources I found, the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag appeared in the magazine, "The Youth's Companion" on Sept. 8, 1892. It was part of the national public schools' observance of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Since the publication was used by schools, an estimated 12 million children pledged allegiance to the America flag that year. It wasn't long before the Pledge of Allegiance was given regularly in schools and at public meetings.

The pledge changed in 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation adding the words "Under God" to the pledge. Sadly, some use those two words as a reason for not reciting the pledge.

There was a controversy over the author of the pledge and in 1939, a panel selected by the United States Flag Association officially accepted it as the work of Francis Bellamy. He, along with the other claimant, James Upham, were staff members of the magazine at the time of the first publication.

Patriotism should be part of our lives 24-7, and I am proud to give the Pledge of Allegiance and stand during the national anthem. These are reminders of the greatness of our country and that each of us owes the United States its support and allegiance.

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