Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." John F. Kennedy

The 4th of July reminds all Americans about the importance of liberty as we celebrate the Declaration of Independence.  It is truly an all-American holiday, from picnics with hot dogs and apple pie to the small town and big city parades to the evening fireworks in almost every town.

And the American flag is the symbol of all of the freedoms enjoyed by Americans. .

I have been thinking back to 9/11/2001.  When the terrorists hit the United States, Old Glory flew on every porch and every yard. Americans were proud to be Americans, and people were kinder to each other and friends and neighbors and relatives clung to each other in a way that only a disaster can make happen. Today is the 4th of July, and as I type this blog, I am thinking about the lack of flags I have noticed driving around Pittsburgh, PA. The occasional flag is displayed, but nothing like the heart-stirring exhibitions we saw in 2001.  Have Americans forgotten the importance of the flag, our nation's symbol?  I certainly hope not. Are schools still teaching the importance of the flag?  I certainly hope so.

When I was teaching English all of those 37 years, we recited the pledge of allegiance in homeroom every morning.  On more than one occasion, I asked the students to write down the words of the first few lines of the pledge of allegiance.  Some funny answers included:
"I bledge the pigeons to the flag" (what does it mean to "bledge", and where did the pigeons come from?), and other was "I pledge my legions to the flag". When I asked this young man how many legions he had and where he kept them, he said he did not know what a legion was, but that was the word he was supposed to say. I reviewed the real words to the pledge of allegiance with my classes, including defining the word "allegiance."  The flag lesson was always a good one, since one should know to whom and to what one is pledging one's allegiance! 

As teachers and adults, we must make the flag a more understandable object for young people, and we can do that by explaining the importance of the 4th of July, as well as by proudly displaying the flag and discussing its virtues.  With the imminent threat of groups like ISIS  in the wings, as well as the hatred of so many other world groups toward the American culture, it is important for all Americans to remember the roots of liberty and the importance of our flag.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday weekend! Hope your flag is flying in honor of liberty and freedom. 

For more about the 4th of July:

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