A couple of days ago, my wife and I attended a Customer Service Excellence awards ceremony. This was for employees across Las Vegas who had been nominated by their employers for outstanding customer service. My wife had been nominated for an award and I went along with her because, a) it was my day off, and b) they had a free breakfast buffet.
Oh, and I was proud of my wife, or whatever.
Anyway, the ceremony opened with the MC – from a local radio station – telling some jokes, telling us how honoured he was to be hosting the awards and desperately plugging his radio station. Well, I say MC…but on the programme guide it was listed as ‘EmCee’.
Does America thinks ‘MC’ is shorthand for ‘EmCee’?
‘OK’ is shorthand for Okay. ‘BBQ’ is shorthand for Barbecue. But ‘MC’ is NOT shorthand for EmCee; it usually stands for Mic Controller…on in this case, Master of Ceremonies (although ‘Master’ was a bit of a stretch).
At the time I was thinking it could’ve stood for something else in which the ‘M’ could’ve been ‘Massive’, or ‘Moronic’, and the ‘C’ could’ve been the only thing ‘C’ could’ve been.
Anyway, next on the list of activities listed on the official programme was ‘The Pledge Of Allegiance’. I was excited for this as I’d never been part of a pledge before so I was intrigued to see it.
I didn’t have to wait long.
Soon, the ‘EmCee’ declared it was time for the pledge and, as one, the auditorium full of people all stood up around me, put their hands over their hearts and started chanting in unison.
“I 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”
It was a little unnerving that everyone just got up and started chanting together, but it’s the pledge of allegiance so I half expected it. It was like The Lord’s Prayer at school which I still know to this day because it was drilled into us, day after day, after day.
Now, you may have noticed that I’ve emboldened and underlined the first part of the pledge above; this was the ONLY part of the pledge that I actually knew – from American movies and TV shows – so I had no choice but to mime the rest like the imposter I was. I felt completely out of place as everyone, including my wife, went into autopilot.
But that wasn’t the weirdest thing. Not by a long shot. No, the weirdest thing was the fact that every single person in the place had turned slightly to the left so they were facing the American flag positioned on the left side of the stage. I thought I had successfully fooled everyone with my hand over my heart and the opening and closing of my mouth like a guppy.
As the only twat still facing forward, I was a fish out of water…and I looked like one.
I have to say, it was all a bit creepy. I’ve become accustomed to the weirdness and eccentricities of American life, but nothing prepared me for this. Everyone outside the USA knows how dedicated the Americans are to their pledge, but the whole flag thing just freaked me out!
This got me thinking though; what if there isn’t a flag in the room? What then?
In America, there’s always a solution.
Until I started reading about what other people thought about America, I never thought too much about the pledge of allegiance. It was just something that was routine we did in school and for special occasions. So I started reading up on the history of it, apparently it was something that started after the civil war to instill a sense of unity within the nation. Keep in mind that we are called the United *States* of America and had history happened differently we may not have been a singled unified nation. The very concept of unity was fragile in early in our history and even today you still hear of grumbles about out of state influence interfering with local politics and concerns about the rights of the states. The pledge was meant to instill faith and unity in our nation. The pledge was originally generic and meant to be able to be used in any nation.
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Although, over time it was changed to be more specific to the US and the “under god” part was added to separate us from the atheistic Soviet Union during the cold war. I agree that in this country we could probably stand to tone down the patriotism and it is overkill to start *every* school day with the Pledge. Although, I chalk that down to “just tradition” *shrugs*
I had read that the “under god” part was added later, as if it would shake the foundation of all organised religion if it wasn’t added. I find it a baffling reason, and a little skewed from the original intent. I understand the tradition, and I kinda like the idea that there’s sense of unity within the USA, but it still doesn’t NOT freak out an outsider when everyone stands, turns and recites in unison without a second thought.
Pavlov would be turning in his grave! 🙂
As an American born citizen, I have always found something weird about the pledge and was often the voice of dissension in school that either wouldn’t say the words, even though I knew them, or refused to stand up until I got yelled at. This wasn’t because I was a real rebel, I was just a kid and I liked causing frustration in the life’s of adults when I could. There was no grand purpose to it, but it did give me a sense of perspective upon reflection. That shit is weird, for a country that prides itself on its freedom rhetoric, the pledge to the flag was not a choice, it was a privilege that you had to accept.
I’m just lucky I didn’t go to school in the South as my rebellious choices would have been less fun and more me getting jumped for being a non-patriot.
I had no idea it was drilled into kids like the penises of Catholic priests. I knew it was a thing, but not to THIS extent. Mind you, when I apply for citizenship in a few years, I have to read it in a room of my peers AND sing the national anthem (yes, SING!). Point me at a flag….I need to practice.
Another funny thing about citizenship is that in order to get it, you have to learn and memorize more about America than the average American born citizen knows and may ever know. You will be more of an expert on our laws, practices, and history than mostly everyone you talk to.
So, at least you’ll have that going for you.