Is it just me, or have we become a little confused about what is important when it comes to form over substance regarding patriotism?
The St. Louis Park City Council’s conflict over the endless repeating of the Pledge of Allegiance certainly points to it (“Sparks fly over pledge removal,” July 9).
Is it really necessary to reaffirm the allegiance of council members and meeting attendees to their country every time they convene? Is there truly a concern that they may all have become some sort of anarchists in the intervening days? Or nihilists that only work for the country’s downfall?
The daily repetition of the pledge may serve some useful purpose for elementary schoolchildren to inculcate the importance of fidelity to our country. But as adults, that same endless repetition can lead only to a concern over the action of saying the words vs. living the meaning.
We have become fixated on going through the motions of standing for the anthem and listening to “God Bless America” for the seventh-inning stretch, forgetting that it is much more important to fight for what is measurably best for the majority of our citizens with our words, our funds and our votes.
Let us quit wasting time on our silly showpieces of patriotism and move on to the effort that is really needed to assure we will continue striving to be one nation with the best of futures for all.
Harold Onstad, Plymouth
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Ordinarily, I subscribe to former President Harry Truman’s sage advice: “Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.” But now that President Donald Trump has elected to weigh-in on St. Louis Park’s internal affairs (“Trump wades into St. Louis Park pledge debate,” July 10), I feel compelled to kick.
As a 33-year resident of the Park, I will be fine with whatever the council and mayor decide regarding the pledge. How they wish to treat words written in 1892 to promote magazine sales, and modified in 1954 to tweak those godless Soviets, is considerably less important to me than how they treat ordinary citizens in the daily business of city government. Generations of public servants in the city have excelled at addressing issues that really count, and I have no doubt the current crop will continue that tradition.
I endorse the sentiment of a previous letter-writer quoting former Justice Robert Jackson’s Supreme Court opinion on the matter. If the mayor and council choose to keep the pledge, they might consider prefacing it with Jackson’s pithy words, reminding anyone present that, in this country, no public official can tell them what to think or profess.
And, for my part, the city’s public officials should feel free to ignore the tweeted opinions of a proven serial liar and alleged serial rapist.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
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Since when is diversity a justification — or excuse — for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, as the St. Louis Park City Council decided?
The council’s decision to begin its meetings without the traditional practice is said by city officials to be a way to present “a more welcoming environment to a diverse community.”
But the city has its backward. The Pledge of Allegiance has long been a vehicle for expression of assimilation and camaraderie for individuals of diverse ethnicity, race, creed, religion and the like.
While those participating in it may take umbrage at certain phrases, including the reference to a deity, the city ought not refrain from its recitation simply as a means of “welcoming” those who do not subscribe to it, at the expense of the vast majority who do. Those not wishing to partake in the pledge at the beginning of a council session can step out of the room without negating the practice for everyone else.
Incidentally, recitation of the pledge at publicly funded events and gatherings, including schools, has been upheld as constitutionally permissible by the courts, as long as those who object are not compelled to participate or punished for declining.
Indeed, those who do not want to join in are welcome not to. That’s about the only “welcoming” the city needs to accommodate.
Marshall H. Tanick, Minneapolis
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In 1966 I was a temporary fourth grade teacher in Savannah, Ga., before being reassigned to teach in a high school. At that time, elementary students in Georgia were required to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag each morning before class. I wondered what my students thought of the pledge and what they were saying, so I had them write down the words as they heard them. Understandably the words “allegiance,” “indivisible” and “republic” were spelled creatively but the most creative interpretation of the pledge was a boy who wrote “I lead the pigeons to the flag of the United States of American.”
The pledge is patriotism-lite and should not be required before official meetings or in public schools.
Susan H. Gross, St. Louis Park
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It is easy to get upset about the Pledge of Allegiance issue in St. Louis Park City Council meetings, but when I watched the news, I was more outraged by people wearing flag apparel, waving small flags like protest signs, unfurling large flags in tight spaces where those flags touched chairs and laps and then were unceremoniously bunched up. Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the U.S. Code lists rules for flag etiquette. We should care as much about the flag etiquette as a pledge in its honor.
I hate seeing those small curbside flags distributed on July 4th with advertising and then run over by lawnmowers. I hate seeing torn and faded flags flying from vehicles. I hate seeing flags left out in inclement weather or not illuminated at night. And I chafe at humongous flags used to identify restaurants or sporting goods stores or rows of flags ringing car dealerships for commercial purposes.
It is ironic that the pledge, created as a marketing tool to increase patriotism and sell flags, has become so revered, while many people fail to properly respect the flag itself.
Rochelle Eastman, Savage
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I find it interesting that the Pledge of Allegiance recited at a council meeting can be viewed as intimidating to some, as tending to increase polarization or to have any adverse effects at all. These are elected officials from all walks of life, serving residents that have all chosen to live in this country. It doesn’t matter where we are from, we are united by living together in this land called America. Does it not seem like the pledge could be viewed as a unifying tool? Will we not reach a point one day when we celebrate unity more than diversity? Stand up, say the Pledge of Allegiance and be proud to do so. Why not?
Sharon McKernan, Bloomington
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The brouhaha in St. Louis Park over the Pledge of Allegiance is unfortunate in a number of ways. First, while its abandonment perhaps was done with good intentions, maybe it wasn’t well-thought-out. Second, everyone has an opinion about everything and feels obligated to offer it here — even me, apparently — when it’s really none of our business. Which leads to a third, poor consequence: It gives the Tweeter in Chief in the White House an opportunity to make yet another issue about himself and, of course, to make it worse.
Everybody, butt out and let St. Louis Park figure this out!
Douglas R. Pederson, Minneapolis