Actually one of the reasons that the Pledge has gone so long unchallenged with "under God" in it is the concept that habitual, repetitive use, over and over without thought or consideration, has caused it to lose its' meaning.
When I was in college I failed Greek lit. On purpose. Why? Because the entire course was designed for frantic memorization of Greek classics. It was literally designed for Cliff's Notes, the cheap, abridged pamphlets full of someone else's interpretations of the books, specially designed for testing.......and the professor admitted as much. Read Homer in a week? In college. With a job.
I informed my professor that if I was going to read The Odyssey, The Illiad or any number of the required text, I was going to read it the way the author intended. I was going to experience it myself. The whole thing.
The Pledge in my opinion is used more and more quite like Cliff's Notes. We don't bother to immerse ourselves in why our country is great, what's great about it, and especially who made it that way, what they were thinking and how we got here. The Pledge is our "abridged" version. We force feed it to children, cause after all, "they gotta learn patriotism and respect" at a young age. The Pledge is a powerful symbol of patriotism. But if you hang your hats on symbols alone, without deep thought as to what they mean....well the last hundred years are stuffed with examples of where that takes you.
I think kids learned more about patriotism from the passengers aboard Flight 93 than they could from 800 years of daily Pledge recitals. I think one quiet visit with a Vietnam vet to The Wall in Washington could teach them more about sacrificing for one's country....and questioning that sacrifice as well...then all the Pledges ever said by tired, cranky school kids at 830 in the morning, blurting out these words cause the dame who runs things up front said so.
One thing I've kept having to remind myself this past week is that I'm patriotic, whether I read the Pledge or not. I've watched a cadre of people I consider to be downright evil......Jerry Falwell, Bob Barr, Trent Lott, Rush Limbaugh and the usual assortment of right wing mullahs.....tumbling over themselves to out-patriot each other in defense of the Pledge. My patriotism takes a back seat to my cynicism, which flares like a bad case of gout whenever I see these clowns. If they like the Pledge, I musn't right? If they think "under God" is right, then I must think it's wrong. If they wave the flag, then the flag must belong more to them than me.
And when I start thinking that, I've allowed a small victory for these people to happen in my soul. This is a thing that liberals fall so easily into, to this day. They hate the message, the messengers and their symbols. Yet they completely forget the symbols aren't exclusively licensed to their enemies. They are labelled "use at will" ...for anyone.
I wrap this week up reading about George Washington. 1st President, military tactician, patriot, intellectual.....and a whole helluva lot more into God than my hero, Thomas Jefferson. Yet Washington himself set the tone which I think was ignored in these past few days.
In his inauguration, as the United States officially gained its' very first President, Washington was required to say these words:
"I, (GW), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The words remain the same to this day. On that day in 1789, President Washington added "So help me God" to the end. It was not required. It was his choice. No one made him say it, no act of Congress was passed, no court rulings, nothing. He invoked the Almighty amidst a land of people deeply grateful to the Almighty. But it was not the law.
I wonder what kind of a week he would have had.