We've probably all said it, countless times, and we can probably all say it by heart.
The question is, how often have we meant it?
How often have we said those words, thought about what they mean, and actually said the pledge as a literal promise to ourselves and our nation, instead of just something we were made (or asked) to do in school?
I know I've done it, quite a few times.
I have sworn my fealty to the nation I live in, and the government that runs it, represented by the American Flag, and I meant it.
Because I mean the other words in the pledge as well, when I say it.
We are ONE nation.
We are, IMO, Under God, although I believe that part should never have been added, and should be removed.
I believe in liberty, and I believe in justice, as ideals that I strive for for everybody.
And I believe in that other word, that crucial word that sometimes gets skipped over, the word that people seem to think about less and less over time.
The word that I'm not sure whether many people really mean, no matter how much they claim to take the Pledge of Allegiance seriously.
You know the word I'm talking about?
Yeah, that one.
As in, "One Nation, Indivisible."
As in, "Incapable of Being Divided."
I'd like to think that we all meant that word when we said it, that we thought about what it meant and chose consciously to say it, but more and more I think that a lot of people just go through the motions, with no more conscious thought about the meaning of that word than I had when I was young enough to think it probably was something like "invisible."
Because more and more over time, it seems like more and more of us are bound and determined to BE divided.
To turn us into a bunch of red states and blue states instead of a singled entity known rightfully as the United States.
We went to war with ourselves once, quite a long time ago, specifically over that crucial word.
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, maybe I'm naive, but I believe in that word, just as I believe in all the old sayings and phrases associated with it.
"A house divided can not stand."
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
"All men are created equal" (and, of course, I include women in that sentiment)
“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
"United we stand, divided we fall."
"E Pluribus Unum"
I believe that our nation is the best nation on the planet, and I believe that it is democracy above all the other reasons that makes it great.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, since the assassination in Tuscon, about the country and about that word.
To me, the word means that our nation, our entire population, cannot be separated from each other, cannot be divided.
To attack one American is to attack all Americans, because we're all the same.
We're all equal.
We're all on the same team.
I think that we need to work on our teamwork, because if we're fighting amongst ourselves, whether through words, symbols, or other weapons, we cannot protect ourselves from external threats.
And there are external threats.
Osama Bin Laden is still out there, and in my opinion still needs to be found and stopped.
Because he orchestrated a deadly attack on some of us, which means that he attacked all of us.
And he killed some of us, which means that he killed a part of all of us.
Because we're indivisible.
Then there's China, who are not actively trying to kill us, but who's way of life is so different from our own that we need to work together to keep them from out-competing us while we're squabbling amongst ourselves.
And there's the threat of our dependence on foreign oil, which requires us to have an active presence in the Middle East, where our troops are targets for terrorists.
And there's the general instability in the world, economically and socially, that threatens the stability of our own nation.
And I don't think we're all that stable lately to begin with.
In order to deal with these external threats, we need to stay united, and we need to remember that we're all on the same side.
Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and everybody else of every political label are all on the same side.
We're all the same; we all want what we believe is best for this country.
Even though we sometimes, increasingly often it seems, disagree about what exactly that entails; that's something that we can work on.
We can even work together on it, if we put our minds to it, because we're America, and we can do whatever we choose to do if we all work together toward the same goals.
Because we're indivisible, whatever differences we think we have, to think or act otherwise is to break that pledge that we all have taken at one time or another, and that hopefully we all have meant when we said the words.
Especially that one word, that oh-so-crucial word.
That word that is the heart and soul of this cluster of 50 states that we call united.
I tossed some quotes at you earlier, and I didn't ascribe them to the people who said them, because hopefully we've all said them. Here's one more, one that some of us are familiar with and that may be new to some of us, even if the sentiment is not:
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves"