The American flag is the most powerful symbol in our nation – it's a symbol of freedom, pride and hope. When the men and women of this country who've made the decision to put on a uniform and serve their country through the armed forces make the ultimate sacrifice, that same flag drapes their caskets before they're laid to rest. The American flag waves in the air during the singing of the national anthem before professional sporting events; it soars above local, state and government buildings; and it's saluted when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Unfortunately, as youth today salute America's most powerful symbol in classrooms to recite the 122-year-old Pledge of Allegiance, lawsuits are being filed to eliminate the phrase "under God."
However, The American Legion is making great strides in ensuring that the two words added to the Pledge of Allegiance by Congress on Flag Day in 1954 remain.
In early May, anti-faith group American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts, claiming the words "under God" violated "separation of church and state." On behalf of The American Legion Department of Massachusetts, Liberty Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief, emphasizing that "the Pledge is a ceremonial act of patriotism." Massachusetts' highest court rejected the lawsuit, allowing schoolchildren throughout the state to continue reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning with the phrase "under God."
According to Liberty Institute, whose mission is to defend and restore religious liberty across America, "the court rejected the claim, noting that recitation of the Pledge is entirely voluntary and that reciting the pledge is a patriotic exercise, not a religious one."
Lawsuits similar to this one are appearing across the U.S. by various groups and individuals, costing thousands in legal fees and distracting our youth from the symbolism of the American flag and the meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance – loyalty, honor and freedom.
I call upon all Legionnaires to educate our young people – America's future – on traditions of Old Glory in effort to protect the flags placement and reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms. We must ensure that the men and women who sacrificed their lives for their country are not forgotten.