Editor's column

I understand that some readers don’t like it when I get all political. I’ve been trying to rein it in, but sometimes that is just too hard for me.

I’ve been thinking about patriotism and love of country. I’ll spoil the big reveal by saying right now, I don’t think outward shows of patriotism — such as saying the Pledge of Allegiance and displaying the U.S. flag — are necessary to love and support our country.

I don’t object to saying the pledge (as long as it is voluntary) and I love the look of U.S. flags fluttering along Main Street as much as anybody (as long as it is voluntary.)

Did you follow the story of the St. Louis Park City Council deciding to end the recitation of the pledge at the beginning of every meeting? Well, all hell broke loose. The council had to start up reciting the pledge again, just to get back to the city’s business.

You know what I find unpatriotic about that story?

It turns out that the majority of the people who came to the council to demonstrate and demand the pledge be recited, were not citizens of St. Louis Park. The discord these people caused, prevented the citizens and council from reaching their own agreement on the topic.

The Sleepy Eye City Council did not recite the pledge before meetings for as far back as I recall. Mayor Wayne Pelzel decided to start council meetings with the pledge when he took office. That doesn’t mean he is more patriotic than mayors and councils that came before him. It just means it is important to him to recite the pledge.

Each meeting begins with Mayor Pelzel asking those in attendance to rise and say the pledge. From what I’ve observed, everyone stands up, turns to the U.S. flag that has been in the corner forever, and recites the pledge. But, there is no “pledge police” watching to make sure everyone is properly and patriotically joining in.

Do you know the history of the Pledge of Allegiance?

It was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (described as a socialist minister) who hoped it would be used by citizens of any country. The original pledge was: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words “my Flag” were replaced with “the Flag of the United States of America,” with the rest of the pledge remaining the same.

In 1954, in response to the perceived Communist threat, or Red Scare as it was known at the time, Congress added the words “under God” to the pledge.

I believe that you should recite the Pledge of Allegiance whenever you want to, but should not feel compelled to do so.