“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We would chant this oath every morning in the first grade in 1962. I was happy to do it, not that I had a choice. Stand up, face the flag, put the right hand over the heart and recite.
Some of it made sense. A little context would have helped. Like, why was this necessary? I wasn’t going anywhere. Crossing the street was only tolerated at certain intersections. Were we being indoctrinated for future manipulation? I trusted my teacher that I wasn’t participating in anything subversive. She looked honorable.
The honorable Miss Johnson was the only teacher to ever give me an F. I was asking for it. I was born disgruntled. She gave us a coloring project, which was insulting. I knew how to color. I had been coloring for ages. Let’s get this education thing on the road, miss. So, I did the whole picture in black and I didn’t stay in the lines. It was my Goya period. Deal with that, Miss Johnson! I nonviolently demonstrated against wasting my time. As it turns out, I wasn’t the first smart@$$ 6-year-old she had run across. Hoisted by my own pencil case.
Actually, I don’t think I ever had a pencil case, or anything that took more than one Trump-sized hand to carry home. Now, grade 2 grunts are lugging around backpacks sized for Navy Seals going on a long mission. Are they secretly bivouacking on a regular basis?
Anyway, we did the pledge, practiced our cursive, got fed some fictional history, tried not to sniff the freshly mimeographed papers, sang off-key about some girl over the ocean and recessed to the playground to hone our survival instincts.
I don’t recall any fatalities, but plenty of small bodies flew off the merry-go-round and bit the dust. Technology hadn’t yet determined the relationship between speed, mass and gravel. And, luckily, we weren’t allowed to have ACL’s at the time.
We could almost make that disk fly — and tried — but we were physics ignorant. Still, had a generator been hooked up, when the pushers reached top speed, before they fell from exhaustion and vomited, we could have lit up south Minot, which was smaller at the time. Very doable.
The metal jungle gym was fun, until some jerk stole one of the highest crossbars, and my muscle memorization had my hand flailing in the air, and I face planted into the hard dirt. I think they tamped down the gravel and soil at night. Fun times.
I made no pledges to those lethal implements, though, but centrifugal forces in my brain have forced a memory drift to the dangerous side of elementary school.
I don’t recall when we stopped doing the pledge every morning. Most likely, as soon as we were old enough to understand the meaning. And what was it with the repetition? Was there a danger of some young punk changing sides in the middle of the night? They never said who was on the other side when we were at our oathing peak.
The president only has to recite his oath of office once, and he has more people in his administration who can speak Russian than can understand Trumpian. Try to find a Rosetta Stone language lesson that unravels ravings in Trumpian.
Was J. Edgar Hoover satisfied that the pledges took hold, even though one-third of grade 1 was saying invisible, and the other two-thirds were looking out the window? Evidently.
So, anyway, the pledge of allegiance faded out of my life. At least I wasn’t required to say it 200 times per year anymore. But\ if pledging and staring was the requirement for patriotism, I was patrioted up to my eyeballs.
Worth noting. That school was a fortress, so naturally it was demolished. Stupidity.
Then, decades later, some people took offense at some behavior displayed while the anthem was being played, so I figured I better watch myself a little closer.
I mostly know what to do when the National Anthem is played, although it’s not required by law. Most people do, but it’s hardly a given that the majority of people in the vicinity will do as they were taught, or mime the person next to them.
Stand up, dammit. Remove your hat, unless you’re wearing one of those giant Kentucky Derby ladies hats. Those are allowed, for some reason. Probably because they need to be stapled to the head. Fortunately, I have no hats bigger than a manhole cover.
Put your right hand over your heart. And even though you aren’t supposed to have anything in your hands during the anthem, you may hold your hat in your right hand and place it over your heart. Don’t even think about removing your hand until after the last note.
Look at the flag throughout the anthem. Don’t turn around and visit with your friend you saw an hour ago. Don’t monkey around with your phone, or whatever else that’s been invented since last week.
Watch the singer if there is no flag. No flag? Talk about no respect. Borrow one from Perkin’s for crissakes. They’ve been using the American flag improperly as a marketing tool, anyway. And they aren’t the only ones. Do you think the NFL whips out a flag the size of a wheat field every game because they’re so damn patriotic? Nope. They are working on your emotions. Hundreds of companies use the American flag as a prop. Not cool.
Shut the hell up!
No eating or drinking during the song. And do not set your bratwurst on the head of the person in front of you, even it is as flat a coffee table.
Stop chewing your gum until the anthem is over. You can leave it in your mouth, but don’t chew, if you know what’s good for you. I think you can swallow it, but not in a showy way.
Sing along if you want, but I would prefer it if you didn’t. Everyone would rather if you didn’t. You are not a good singer, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying.
Remove your sunglasses. This one got me. Of course, I won’t be able to see the flag, which seems counterproductive, but I don’t make the rules. And since glasses don’t cost seven times more than my first car, if you order them online, I also have pairs with 10 percent and 50 percent tint. I have no clue what the ruling is on those. I think I may lose points for vanity.
Cheering after the song is over is not allowed. No applause, please, you commie. You could claim that you’re actually clapping for the game that is about to begin, and not Beyonce, but we all know better. Clap for the fly-over, if you wish, if you can afford a seat for a game that gets the Air Force involved.
Airliners frequently fly over Fargo sports fields. Cheer if you don’t care if other people think you’re loopy.
Don’t put your hand over your heart or salute a foreign flag, you traitor. Drones could be watching.
No hiding in the bathroom, or behind a skinny tree.
Lastly, do not allow a large green parrot to sit your shoulder, their perch of preference, and certainly no type of waterfowl. No birds is a good rule of thumb.
So, it’s clear that everyone has disrespected the flag. What’s your beef? Is there something you’re protesting? Unpatriotic jerk!
Of course, there are no laws requiring a citizen to respect the flag, but don’t expect to be employed if you’re caught with a finger in your ear on the big screen while the rockets red glare.
We could discuss all of the events where the National Anthem is played and the flag is displayed, but let’s focus on football.
We’ve established that everyone in the stands is a turncoat, but what about the players, at all levels?
For starters, the anthem is rarely played before any game below the varsity level. What’s their problem? You spend your youngest years repeatedly pledging allegiance, and then you have to be talented enough to make the varsity team to rate our national song. It seems arbitrary to me. How rebellious to ignore patriotic protocol. Very cheeky.
When the anthem is played, society demands you behave in a certain way, but not playing it all is acceptable? It seems so.
When the music starts, how many players have their hands grasping the front of their shoulder pads, or have their arms to their sides, or are talking, or looking around? Are they chewing gum or continuing with their warmups. How many are so bright, they have wear shades?
Who decided that one particular violation of the rules of National Anthem etiquette is more deplorable than all of the others?
Who decided that 99.9 percent of anthem rule violations are committed scorn free, but raising a fist, or taking knee, is an unforgivable unpatriotic sin?
Several other flag offenses worth noting
- Our flag is not a decoration, people. If you want blue, white and red stripes for your fabulous event, buy the bunting, and make sure the blue stripe is on top.
- It is not to be used for advertising. No flag cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, paper plates or anything that will discarded after use.
- The flag is not a costume or clothing. Duck Dynasty hillbillies shouldn’t be using the flag as a headband to absorb hillbilly sweat. Chris Christie should not be wearing a tank top with the image of the flag on it, for more reasons than one. No Spandex. No nothing for civilians. The Tea Party abused this encoded rule of flag decorum with abandon.
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
And he who thinks that this country is fair for everyone, and nobody has any justifiable grievances, continue to bark in your American flag panties.