Bueno or Not so Bueno

Close your eyes. Imagine November. November in Austin....yes, it's still that damn hot. But it's the Friday before Veteran's Day, so a long weekend is imminent. Oh yes, the first twinges of the SARS-like virus that put you in bed for two days and off your normally sharp game for two weeks, are starting to wear you down and you're tired. And yet, you drag yourself to your daughter's school to participate in the Veteran's Day festivities. A 45-minute sing-a-long of the best of Patriotic Songs KidJamz 10.

We open with the pledge..including the Texas pledge (do other states recite pledges to their flag?? "I pledge allegiance to the North Dakotan flag...", it just sounds weird to me), one class goes up to the stage to recite the Pledge in Spanish. Other classes recite poems etc...ask the veterans who are present to please stand so we can thank them for their service, applause, applause, the sing-a-long commences. Lots of purple mountain majesty, waving over ramparts, shores of Tripoli, and the old favorite about standing UP and saluting her still today.

Sounds like a lovely little sing-a-long, no? But wait. I hear some grumbling. A friend mentions she's not so happy to have heard the pledge in Spanish. Really? I say. I thought it was nice. It makes my ears bleed, she says. Highlights our Spanish program, I say. Hmmm.

Then I hear (our grapevine is quite the tangled web, make no mistake) of another acquaintance who has made it her current mission to obliterate the saying of the pledge in Spanish. Obliterate it, I say! Hmmm? This is getting curiouser and curiouser. This must truly offend more people than I thought. My finger isn't as tight on the pulse of current opinions as I would have some people think.

Skip ahead a couple of weeks and I'm sitting at a meeting of this little campus committee where I go and eat cookies and sign off on improvement plans and such. We have a visitor. We don't usually get visitors unless they have an issue or are wanting the committee to do something to help their cause. Wonder what he wants? as I munch a delectable molasses cookie. He's wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt and a scowl. I'm thinking he's not here for the cookies. He doesn't take one even after I comment on their delicious-ness. Not a good sign.

We go through the agenda. I see Veteran's Day under Old Business. Oops...guess that should've been New Business. Yep. He's ticked. How dare we say the pledge in SPANISH? It's a desecration and a slap in the face to all who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. Not just him, but all the veterans to whom he's mentioned this profanity find it abhorrent.

Administrators attempt apologies and reasonable explanations. Educational relevancy. Innocent activity to showcase our Spanish program. No offense intended. Veteran's Day program is an optional program. Time taken away from instruction because it's felt to be a worthy cause. Two people speak up (NOT me....I don't 'speak up'), one in favor one most definitely NOT. Controversy.

Veteran pulls the combat card. Have any of us been shot at? Fighting for THIS country? Bullets flying? Finger pointing. Protecting our fellow brothers. Watching them die. Well? Have we? Because if we haven't, then we can't REALLY understand what The Pledge means. They're just WORDS to us...not REAL MEANING. We may pay lip-service to The Pledge, but unless we FIGHT for our country we simply CAN'T know what those words truly mean. He feels strongly.

Administrator steps in and stops the tirade. Strikes a compromise. Only after voicing her offense at his condescension. Breathing again. No more Pledge in Spanish at the Veteran's day event, but reserve the right to say it at other events. Diplomacy prevails.

I don't 'speak up', but I DO blog, so my thoughts are these.

Come on, Veterans. Why so cold? Why not loving anybody who will pledge allegiance to this flag you cherish so deeply? Can we not embrace all who would pledge fidelity, devotion and loyalty to this star-spangled banner without regard to the origins of the words, but to the origins of the sentiment? Must any would-be allegiance-pledgers pass a test? No allegiance for YOU because you didn't say it in English! NEXT! (why yes, I CAN work a Seinfeld reference into any topic).

Edited to add: The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. I can't find anything that indicates he ever served in the military. Read more here. It's rather interesting.


Suz said...

That. Just. Shocks. Me. Can all veterans really feel that way. How can it not be OK to speak another language -- Spanish! -- in Texas! If non vets can't understand the pledge then why do we even bother. How very sad. And ignorant ...

KT said...

I brought this up in a group last nite where I thought I would hear the same shock-ed-ness. Surprisingly, the group was split on the issue. With "diplomatic" me in the middle saying, "yeah, uh, see your point." "yours too." "ok, hmm, yeah." CHANGE THE SUBJECT!!

LisaC said...

I too posed the question to my husband (former Air Force) if he would be offended if this happened to him. Oh my gosh....did I open up a can of worms. He feels very strongly that the pledge should be spoken in English. I tried to say NEXT, but it went on for a while. I was thinking of asking my Dad (former Marine in Vietnam) his thought, but I think I already know what the answer would be. The phone line would be vibrating. Maybe not. Yikes!!

tj said...

I would think that, as the great Melting Pot, there would be lots of extremely patriotic Americans who might recite the pledge in other languages. After all, you're still saying the same words. I posed the question to MJ and he felt like the pledge should only be done in English since it is the language in which the pledge was written. Brought to mind trying to read Beowulf in the olde English.

Jamie said...

This is craziness! So much controversy over something sooooooo insignificant.

I'm going with Suz on this in that I'm just socked at how strongly people feel about it one way or the other.

There are soooooooo many more RILLY IMPORTANT things in the world to feel strongly about; and I hate to break it to you vets, but the pledge spoken in another language is just NOT one of them.

Bubble Girl said...

See? Divided issue. One other thought as I read through what I wrote. How can one pledge allegiance to TWO flags? What if Texas wants to secede again? To which flag are allied? We've already taken an oath to both....ha...that rhymes. Is anyone upset over this Double Oath? I happen to know from a certain series of Books that I've read that one shouldn't swear oaths to more than one laird..I mean...flag.

Anonymous said...

I object to ANY pledge that is required by law, as does Texas.
You can't force loyalty and patriotism.
Furthermore, the introduction of "God" to the national pledge in 1954 and the Texas pledge just this past summer, makes both religious pledges, thus a violation of the US Constitution.