I remember growing-up, and sitting down to eat a meal with any one of my girlfriend’s and their families, that it was automatic that everyone bowed their heads and said grace. The only mystery that ever took place was what kind of grace that would be said: a traditional grace, a spur-of-the-moment made-up grace (the best kind in my opinion), or one that sounded somewhat traditional, but like none I had ever heard before.
I also remember every day before school would start, that saying the Pledge of Allegiance was just a given. For years, most of us would recite those words not truly realizing or understanding the depth of the words being spoken. We said them, because that’s just what you did.
Today when you sit down at table to break bread with people, many times, you have no idea the religious affiliation of the person sitting next to you, their beliefs, or if even they believe at all. So “blessings” seem to fall to the wayside under the scrutiny of being unsure and not offending anyone.
Groups that gather and recite The Pledge of Allegiance are now under attack as well, and freedom of choice and speech has plopped itself dead in the center of that controversy.
I don’t know what the “right” answer is, nor do I know if there is a “right” answer. Growing-up, I was raised to think independently and make-up my own mind about how I chose to believe and live life. I was of course guided in certain directions, but I always understood those choices were mine to make.
In turn, I raised my children the very same way. Maybe even a little more so in the “speak your mind” department, but just the same, they were raised to have minds of their own based on their own formed opinions throughout their lives.
As it often happens, even though they were raised in the same house, with the same values and the same ideals, my children are very different people, but they are also very alike people. Sounds confusing I know, but that’s the perfect way to describe them.
I don’t pretend to understand the how’s or the why’s of the people who are born here, raised here, or have enjoyed the freedom’s and liberties of living here – how they cannot honor the flag and the independence and freedom it represents by standing at attention, with their hand over their heart while it waves in all its glory.
It does, in my heart of hearts, make me want to scream out, “Go somewhere else, where the living is hard, there are no true freedoms, and choices are not yours to make”. But that’s not my place – nor is it anyone elses - because we do have those freedoms of speech and choice. That was decided for all of us many years ago, and so it was written for all of us to follow.
So I end this today by shouting God Bless America – because that is MY right to freedom of speech, choice and religion – all wrapped up in one.