Even in kindergarten I remember standing up every morning while the teacher took attendance and saying:

"I pledge a legiance to the flag of the united states of a-mer-i-ca and to the re-public for witches' stands, one nation, under God, in-i-visble, with liberty and justice for all."

Let's be honest. Before the 6th grade I hadn't the foggiest notion what I was really saying, except that it was required that I recite the pledge every morning to a flag that stood otherwise unnoticed at the tippy-top of the chalkboard. And even though I swore these things with my hand over my heart, it took me a while to understand that you don't pledge a legiance, you pledged allegiance. And for that matter, we were not an invisible nation--rather an indivisible one. Of course I was most upset when I learned the truth about the witches' stands.

And then a guy in California decided maybe "under God" was a little too churchy for a separation of church and state, so he pressed the matter. And the religious folks pressed back. And then the press pressed (is that where they get their name?) and then the court pressed and now it seems everyone's taking a time-out before coming back to press again. In the meantime, teachers and students and everyone else who makes a habit of saying the pledge are left in something of a quandry.

In case you're wondering, the official stance is this: until such time as the appeal process is over, the pledge is to be recited in full, including the phrase "under God." Per the Constitution no one may be required to recite these words, however many school children across these 50 united states are required to hear the pledge at least once per week.

Thank you, bureaucracy.

So here we are and it is August and we have to say the pledge every day--school rules. And my classroom is right next door to a delightful 7th grade English teacher who just happens to be introducing the concept of "synonyms" to her pupils this semester and also just happens to think that the phrase "under God" symbolizes everything that's wrong with our puritanical, hypocritical money-driven society. Her words, not mine.

She decides that her students are going to write their own pledges of allegiance. They take a few days in class to discuss synonyms and the splendor that is the thesaurus. They talk about liberty and patriotism and they decide what's really important to them and they brainstorm and they divide and conquer. The lesson is a success, free speech is saved! Up on the bulletin board in the hallway they go. I walked by them today. Here are some of my favorites:

"...one nation, under the big guy, that can't be broken even by racism
or terrorism, with fairness and equality for almost everybody."

"I give a shout-out to the red, white and blue flag
of the U.S. of A. and to the democratic republic
that it symbolizes of one country under the sun
that is an unstoppable super power, too."

"... and to the government it represents
one nation, under the religious leader of your
choice, indivisible, with liberty and justice
for all those who are in this country legally."

"I pledge my love and loyalty to people, not to flags
but when I see the U.S. flag I think of my family and
I want to tell them I love them and I'm proud."

And finally...

"I still pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all and not because I have to, either."