My adorable almost-4-year-old cousin-twice-removed -- hope I got that right! -- is learning the Pledge of Allegiance in pre-Kindergarten. Her teacher is helping the class prepare for the year ahead, and Elise is working really hard to get the words right.
Battles over the Pledge have resulted in multiple acrimonious lawsuits and disputes, with no change to the law, only increasing resentment and hostility on both sides of the dispute. It's time to reframe the debate.
Making students stand up and say the pledge each morning is not a jingoistic act of American imperialism or a violation of a student's rights, as some would argue. It's simply a statement of patriotism.
I am an American and the descendant of slaves. One of them was the first African-American invited as a guest into the White House. His name was Frederick Douglass. I am also a descendant of a man who led the South's Confederate troops during the Civil War. His name was General Robert E. Lee.
Americans, in time of such great tragedy, can be truly awe-inspiring in their unity and resolve. But is that enough? Is it enough to belt out the national anthem for a few days and then return to business as usual?
It never ceases to amaze me that, day after day, otherwise rational parents allow their impressionable young children to partake in a ritual so rooted in conformity that it seems inimical to the principles of freedom and individualism that underpin our country.