Attending school in the innocence of the 50's meant we were not troubled with all the regulations that are now running rampant in our society. It meant that every morning we would take time to recite the pledge of allegiance and every classroom was decorated with an American flag. (As an aside, there were only 48 stars on the flags back then.) In 1954, Congress added the words "under God" to the pledge with little backlash or fanfare.
Now as we turn the clock forward we find a controversy arising in Michigan where the legislature is considering a bill that would direct all public schools to set aside time to recite the pledge of allegiance, something that many of us already thought was a practice in the schools. In addition, classrooms would be directed to display an American flag. (now with 50 stars) As expected, there is a certain amount of pushback from people who think mandates from the government are improper even if it is for something as innocent as reciting the pledge of allegiance.
It is confusing to me that there are groups of people who are protesting this directive. Some feel it is against their religion to utter the words "under God," while others are upset that their offspring have to participate in the practice.
Currently there are 43 states that have a similar directive. And don't we begin each sporting event in our country with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner while we look at our flag? How about our Olympic athletes proudly wrapping themselves in an American flag after winning an event. Coincidentally, American flags are proudly displayed at various municipal meetings in our country. And in so far as the phrase "under God," have any of these protesters noticed that all our currency contains the words, "In God We Trust."
The resolution for all this seems very simple to me: if you do not want to have your offspring recite the pledge of allegiance -- if you object to the words "under God" in the pledge -- if you take exception to the words "In God We Trust" on our currency or on the walls of courtrooms in our country -- then you obviously are in the wrong country.
We live in a country where we can exercise freedom of speech. But why should anyone object to honoring a flag that symbolizes the freedoms that we enjoy? It sure puzzles me.
Editor's Note: Bill Kalmar of Lake Orion, Mich., retired from Comerica Bank in 1993 and was then director of the Michigan Quality Council from 1993-2003. The Fort Scott native now writes on a freelance basis.