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Memphis Daily News
Pledging Our Allegiance
June 30, 2014
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

The Pledge of Allegiance, just 31 words, is an encounter with wisdom from the past, taking us from what we hold, to what holds us. It is memorized, recited and ingrained into our daily lives.

And, as sometimes happens with the routine, the deep meaning becomes lost. The profound becomes rote, taken for granted, and reciting the words of the Pledge almost a counter-cultural act. In a throwaway culture, we still preserve this tradition. In a society that celebrates novelty and creativity, we recite words written long ago. In a country that values individuality, we recite them in unity. When the accepted wisdom changes minute by minute in our lives, we repeat this pledge over and over because it is so important. In a time that commitment is not always honored, we pledge our allegiance.

There have been a number of events I attended recently where the Pledge of Allegiance was part of the ceremony, and the celebration of our country’s independence on July Fourth highlights the part the pledge plays in seeking to bring unity in our diversity. It is no easy task when our country was founded to ensure individual freedoms. However, when taken line by line, the wisdom imbedded in the words is better understood.

I pledge allegiance to the flag:

I, an individual with a unique history and present circumstances, striving to live in community with others, promise my loyalty and respect not only to the flag, the symbol of our country, but to all that our country’s flag symbolizes.

Of the United States of America:

Individual communities, joining together for a common purpose, to preserve and protect the freedoms we hold dear, recognizing that freedom is everyone’s job. Individual states, defined not by walls that separate, but by boundaries that honor the individuality of each state and the way the Constitution of the United States of America is lived out within the boundaries of each state.

And to the Republic for which it stands:

We are led by those chosen by the majority in the open elections in a government of, by, and for the people. Regardless of personal feeling about election outcomes, we respect those who govern, seeking not what divides us, but what unites us in order to promote the common good.

One Nation under God, indivisible:

We are a single country, not to be divided, under the protection of God, a supreme being, not defined by an individual person or religious denominations. It is God we turn to in thanksgiving for blessings received, for help in the tragedies that befall our communities, and our country, and for protection for all those in service to our country, protecting our freedoms.

With liberty and justice for all:

We have the right to live our lives, to act and speak freely, without fear of retaliation, under fair and impartial laws, with the corresponding responsibility to accord the same right to others, always seeking unity, understanding, and respect in our diversity.

Happy Fourth of July!

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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