Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, America!

The following was written by an llth grader, Joe Stubenrauch, and given to my husband, Duane, during his 2nd run for U.S. Congress 10 years ago. We've lost track of Joe, but his words are as excellent today as they were when first written. Joe, if you read this please get in touch with us.

The Pledge of Allegiance
by Joe Stubenrauch

The colors of our country, the red, white and blue, have flown for 220 years upon countless fields and over countless graves. The flag has flown proudly from the steps of our capitol and it has been waved in hope in the tiny hand of a child.

It was first raised in promise over a fledgling republic. It stood, bloody and ragged upon the battlefields of the Civil War, beating in the wind, a standard of freedom and union. For those brave men and women who have saluted our flag over the years, there is no sacrifice begrudged in giving one's life for the nation for which that flag flies; it is an honor.

When I stand before Old Glory, I am standing before the same flag that has tossed upon every sea in the world. Upon it are the same rippling colors that flew from the ships that beached at Normandy and that landed upon the shores of Italy and Iwo Jima, bringing liberation to the oppressed. It is the same dear flag for which soldiers gave their all in Korea and Desert Storm.

When I stand with my hand pressed against my own beating heart, feeling the flood course through my body, I know that I am standing in the steps of those whose noble names are written upon the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC. I am saluting the same flag which has been lifted with a shout of triumph as some lone soldier struggled to the height of a hill, and upon reaching the summit, raised it as a sign of hope to those below.

It is the same flag that groaned and trembled but was not daunted upon the fateful deaths of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. The same that was lifted high in bright victory under President Ronald Reagan.

That flag which has always flown for progress and for the good of mankind now stands forever upon the moon that glows softly above us. I imagine that prisoners of war can take comfort that every time their eyes lift to that great globe, there is the flag of America, still standing tall and proud, still standing for home and liberty.

No matter what befalls our country, the flag of the United states of America will forever be a banner of hope; hope for the individual and hope for freedom. America, the land of beauty, founded upon and under God, baptized in the blood of the men and women who gave all so that the values our flag stands for would never fall.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a simple statement of commitment that has been said across our country by school children for generations. When those children speak the pledge each school morning, they are rededicating themselves to the eternal principles of liberty and self-government that men like Jefferson and Lincoln established so long ago.

To me, the Pledge of Allegiance is the acknowledgement of all that has gone before, and a promise of what is to come. It is a recognition of that blood that has been spilled across our glorious nation and across the world in the name of liberty. It is that American blood that will be spilled again and again, willingly, in the defense of all that is good and right.

This Spring, as I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looked out across the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument and the illuminated Caitol beyond, I thought of the words of Lincoln, carved into the stone walls of the monument itself:

"...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

To me, the Pledge of Allegiance is a commitment to live out those words.

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