Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Flag Placement , Battlefield Museum, and Why I Don't Pledge Allegiance to Any Flag

On Saturday, Hunter, Ronin and I attended a Flag Placement ceremony at the Stones River National Battlefield. While I had visited the area near the cemetery once before, I had never walked through the sea of tombstones nor had I ever been inside of the visitors center. We enjoyed our time at the Battlefield a great deal.

Hunter and Ronin were given a measuring stick and a handful of American flags. Each flag had to be a certain distance in front of the marker to create a lovely unified display. Hunter seemed to really enjoy doing this act of service.

Everyone was expected to rise and say the Pledge of Allegiance. This is the second Boy Scout related event that we've attended where we were asked to do this. I have just recently come to realize that I am uncomfortable with reciting the Pledge. My children had never heard it before and they just looked around at everyone saying these words with a bit of shock. When I came home, I asked, on a bona fide life's facebook page, "Does anyone else feel weird about participating in the Pledge of Allegiance?" I received an overwhelming response. Some people agreed with me... they did feel awkward about it or they down right disliked it. Others were passionate about saying the words and felt it was very important to recite the Pledge as a patriotic citizen. Reasons I cited for feeling uncomfortable with the act were: The expectation to say it... the recitation without questions, the "I promise to be loyal to this country" when I'd LOVE to move out of the country and not participate in our government, the cult-like chanting, the dated language, and the fact that I don't think this country offers liberty and justice for all in a LOT of ways are just a few of the issues I have with being expected to say it (which I do not). Then my friend reposted the question on her own facebook page and a mutual friend of ours answered that ever since she read up on the origins of the Pledge, she has refused to participate in it. After reading about it myself, I cannot help but think that my initial thoughts of "cult", "brainwashing" and "indoctrination" were relatively accurate.

One of my readers brought this video to my attention. I happen to love it.

How do you feel about saying the Pledge of Allegiance?

Since we skipped the Pledge, I brought the kids to a small quiet bench among the graves and I talked to them about the purpose of Memorial Day and about why we were marking the graves of these soldiers. Then I led them in a prayer of thanks and honor. In our prayer we thanked God for freedoms, particularly for the freedom to homeschool. We are very fortunate to live in a country that allows us such freedoms. I hoped that the kids understood even a little about why we were there.

After the flag placement, we went back inside the Visitor's Center to look around the museum. I could not believe that I'd never visited this museum before. I learned so much. I've only recently become interested in the Civil War thanks to some books by Lynn Austin.

Ronin became extremely upset in the museum and started to cry. She seemed to understand what it was all about. I felt that she connected with the objects in the museum in the way that the designer may have hoped that she would. I asked her if she'd like to read more about the Civil War and she said no, it might upset her too much. I can't help but wonder if she'll become a history buff though. I certainly never felt empathy for the events of the past the way that she seems to. I'm just now developing that ability. I was a little shocked and at a loss as to what to say to her. Any suggestions for movies or books that might help her understand the Civil War a little better but in a more gentle manner?

The gift shop was amazing. I could have spent hours in there. Hunter really liked it too. Here the kids are playing with a Civil War chess set.

If you are in the Murfreesboro area, I would highly recommend setting aside a couple of hours to check out this awesome historical site. I'm embarrassed that we'd not been before but I plan to go back regularly.