LETTER: Divided we now stand

To the editor:

The United States Constitution does not mention a Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.

The U.S. Congress officially recognized the present Pledge on June 22, 1942. The words “under God” were not added until 1954.

The Constitution does not mention a National Anthem. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” although recognized by the U.S. Navy in 1889, was not made the National Anthem by Congress until March 3, 1931.

The issue for some citizens today seems to be with the ending of the Pledge, “…with liberty and justice for all.”

Only the first of four stanzas of the “Star-Spangled Banner” is usually sung, and there is apparently no controvery with it.

The controvery comes when while the National Anthem is sung, the Flag is usually raised somewhere in conjuction with it.

Objection to the symbolism with the Flag, and the association of the Pledge with it, seems to be that protestors do not think this symbol of our nation deserves any respect concerning the word “justice” as stated in the Pledge.

For many years I have noticed the Flag has been disrepected on many occasions while it has been raised when people in public continue to talk, don’t remove headgear, remain seated or generally ignore this tribute to their country.

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that any desecreation of the U.S. Flag was “symbolic speech” guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, as interpreted. That includes disrepect of all symbols of the United States.

The U.S. Flag is now radicalized with all sorts of configurations to suit an individual’s taste or lack thereof.

As a result, I have paid attention more so to the fact that Americans in the past and present have had a lot of disrespect for one another. More so in recent years. It is more noticeable today because of rapid communication. No doubt America’s enemies are also taking notice of our divisions.

When our so-called “leaders” in America continue to be disrespectable of each other and those who agree or disagree with them, it is no wonder that some members of the public follow suit in regard to respect.

Not long ago, some of us were shocked that “so-called religious” groups protested U.S. military actions by demonstrating at several funerals for our military veterans. It was inappropriate. It is equally inappropriate today when protests violate the rights of others wanting to show respect without a disturbance.

If you want respect, give respect. Otherwise, the unintended consequence may become free-for-alls for any cause.

Our Republic has always been polarized to some extent on all issues, even with great wars.

Our leaders have spent a lot of lives, time and money to bring agreement among nations around the world.

It is time for such efforts to be conducted equally at home in the United States where disrespect for one another has become a crisis in itself at a time when we are being threatened by terrorist activities.

No doubt bitter disrespect feeds radical behavior among some people.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” While dealing then with a national crisis, it can be equally applicable today.

We are supposed to be a nation of laws, but they seem to have become so stretched beyond the Constitution as to be ineffective to preserve the nation as intended and command the respect of our citizens.

How much more divided must we become before something is done about preserving the respect for our nation at home and abroad?

Tom MacCallum


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