This Week's Story

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We are not worshipping this torn flag. It represents dreams and goals for life in our country.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

The Pledge of Allegiance with a Ripped Rayon Cloth

Over the speaker system came the principal’s voice. “We will do the Pledge of Allegiance now.” My students stood.

We faced the flag suspended above the front blackboard. It was a pathetic piece of ripped rayon with dangling threads. Every time I looked at it, I was irritated. I should ask for permission to replace it.

As students mumbled the Pledge. I thought, If my students could hear stories about American men and women who worked, suffered, taught, and fought that we might have the freedoms the pledge declares, they would have a different attitude about the pledge. They would stand with excitement as images from the stories flashed through their minds.

I walked to the flag and said, “We are not worshipping this torn strip of rayon! By itself it means nothing. It represents dreams and goals for life in our country. ‘I pledge’ means you and I are making a promise as we recite the pledge.”

I thought about student attitudes about the pledge and said, “You know Jackie Robinson was the first black man to be accepted to play in American Major League baseball. He was convinced that he had the right to break the color barrier. Branch Rickey was the white manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He also believed that a black man should have that opportunity.

He asked Jackie, “Will you agree that for three years you will not fight back when you are humiliated by people who think you have no right to play on teams with white men? If so, I want you to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers team.”

Both men were ridiculed, especially Jackie, but he kept his promise. He went into history not only as a phenomenal baseball player, but as a man who had the courage to suffer for “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.”

Will Rogers, actor, cowboy, writer, and one of the most famous comedians in American history advised, “Everybody is running around in a circle announcing that someone has pinched their ‘liberty’ The question arises how much ‘liberty’ can I get and get away with it? Well you can get no more than you give.”

During the Revolutionary War when thousands of American soldiers escaped across the East River in small boats, General Washington was in the last boat to cross. His safety was not his primary concern. Another leader might have believed that Washington should have protected himself, but Washington knew that his men needed to see him sacrifice for their liberty. They needed to see justice in a republic where there is a certain equality between its members, where leaders serve the people.

Liberty, justice, rights for all, republic, one nation under God! These are daily commitments that we can promise to practice when we say the Pledge of Allegiance.

In the examples of Jackie Robinson, Will Rogers, and General Washington are quotes from stories I wrote for This Week’s Story. They are on the website www.thisweeksstory.com in the archives. Find and read them. Be inspired.

This is Barbara Steiner joining you.

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