“I Pledge”

The following is the first of 12 posts on the Pledge of Allegiance. The next eleven are composed by guest authors. Below is my own. For an overview on the project, go here.

 “I Pledge…”

I. Me. Myself. As an individual. The Pledge of Allegiance does not begin with the phrase “We pledge”, but with the singular “I”. In my opinion this is how it should be. After all, I am reciting this pledge as an individual. Not in the safety of a group or groups. There is a strength and accountability in this. There is safety in numbers, and while we certainly do need to stand together our chain is only as strong as the weakest link. By having that chain of citizenry made up of individuals who are willing to put their neck out and say aloud that “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all” we are stronger. We are accountable. Accountable to ourselves, to our citizen neighbors, and to our Creator. It is the refuge of cowards to linger in groups or in mobs, inaudibly mumbling and hiding in “we”. By saying “I” we stand taller and stronger as united individuals, which sounds like an oxymoron, but is an essential part of who we are as Americans. We retain our individuality. It is what makes America great. Our many faces. This is our melting pot.

And what is it we do? We pledge. We make a “binding promise or agreement.” It is a security we deposit with our fellow Americans. In the M*A*S*H* episode “Old Soldiers” we see one of the more poignant examples of the word. Airing in 1980, this particular episode saw Col. Potter revealing to members of his command that he and his WWI buddies had created a tontine—a pledge—involving a bottle of French wine, to be drunk by the last surviving member. He is the last of the group left alive and, before sharing the bottle with his current comrades, makes a solitary toast those that went before him.

“Here’s to you, boys.
To Ryan, who died in WWI, the war to end all wars.
To Gianelli, who died in the war after that.
To Stein, the joker of the crowd.
And to Gresky, my best friend who just passed away in Tokyo.
You were the friends of my youth.
My comrades through thick and thin and everything in between.
I drink to your memories.
I loved you fellows, one and all.”

I have read of a similar true-life pledge made by members of a WW2 Marine division.

In that vein, I reaffirm the pledge made by my ancestors who came to its shores and helped build this great country.

To my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather Lewis Walker, born in Merioneth County, Wales. Setting sail from Pembrokeshire, Wales, he came to these shores in 1687 and purchased a large tract of land in 1705 at what is now known as Valley Forge, naming the place Rehobeth.

To my great-great grandfather Gottfried Friedrich Zafft, born in 1821 and migrated to America in 1879 from Lotzens Landsberg, Germany.

To my great-great-great grandfather Benjamin Harris Walker who, along with eight of his sons, were listed on a reward poster as operators of a section of the underground railroad helping runaway slaves escape across the Mason-Dixon Line during the Civil War, with a price of $10,000 on their heads.

To my great-grandfather Fred Fuchs, Sr., who came to America from his home in Kladno, Czechoslovakia in 1874 and wrote an extensive diary detailing his experience and hardships in settling on the prairies of South Dakota where he and his bride buried six infant children on the cold windswept prairie before the first survived: my mother’s father.

To my great-grandfather Isaac Johnson, born in 1879 in Norway, immigrated to America’s shores at the age of six with his family and settling in Dakota Territory (North and South Dakota becoming states in 1889.) He grew to manhood and in 1897 during the Spanish-American War enlisted in Company D, South Dakota regiment, serving in Cuba and eventually in the Philippine Islands, where he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

To these men, and to their wives and sons and daughters, I pledge.

To my parents, I pledge.

To my wife, I pledge.

And to my children and my children’s future children, I pledge.

To my fellow American citizens, I pledge.

I. Pledge.

__________________________________________

Jeff Walker is a project manager/systems analyst by day, sporadic writer by night, a husband-father-Catholic-Red Sox fan 24/7/365. You may read more about him here.

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One thought on ““I Pledge”

  1. Pingback: “Allegiance” « Dolce Domum

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