Saturday, July 4, 2015

Pledging My Heart and My Hand Again

I learned this little song in Primary as a very young child. It is still a favorite. I am glad that I was privileged to learn about God and about His hand in giving us this great Country. I'm glad that my parents valued teaching me these things. They didn't set aside my learning until they thought I could understand everything or make decisions for myself. They didn't set aside my learning, giving me the “freedom” to choose to learn whatever I wanted to at some future date.

My parents are not natives to this Country, but they are Americans and United States citizens in every other way. They value the opportunities that this Country has given them in the way of religious freedom and individual enterprise. They are thankful for the privilege of rearing their family on the blessed soil granted by God to those who claimed the Lord as God. Their generation is indeed representative of the workers. And we are the beneficiaries of their work.

In third grade, I had a teacher named Miss Nakahara. She was of Japanese descent, and she was one of the most patriotic teachers I've ever met. We learned so many songs about our Country that year. Each day we would begin class with The Pledge of Allegiance and two or three patriotic songs. I learned to love this Country at church, in my home, and at school. And I learned to love God in those three places as well. I am thankful that my school teachers and Primary teachers were able to provide me moral direction.

I remember looking forward to 1976! It was a great big deal. We looked forward to that Bicentennial of The United States of America for many years. What a wonderful milestone for us to witness and to be a part of. I don't know of anyone who didn't love this great land. We rejoiced in it, in the history of it, and in those who safeguarded our freedoms.

I also remember looking forward to the Sesquicentennial of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I wouldn't describe the feelings that I had for these two events as pride; at least, not in the way pride events are celebrated today. I had a sense of security in the history and celebrations of our Country and our Church. There was a sense of belonging and unity, despite diversity. I felt a quietness and a reverence, as well as a thrill and exuberance. I still feel those things when I think about God and country and what those two things mean to me.

Our lives experiences shape us to a great degree. We form a schemata, our personal knowledge storage bank. The things that we learn in our first few years of life can become important tools to us throughout life. The guidance that we receive from parents, leaders, mentors, and teachers can be an invaluable endowment in aiding our ability to form into healthy and happy human beings. Ultimately, it is our personal choices and desires to do well that can propel us forward in our path and progress. If we are taught to love both God and Country, if we are given healthy doses of scripture and history, will these things help mold us into better people, or will they serve to trap or indoctrinate us?

Were my rights infringed upon because I was taught to love God and Country? Absolutely not. Because I had the security of knowing God, of feeling His love for me, and because I had the assurance that this land was a blessed land with a moral destiny, I had the calmness and peace of knowing that I myself could succeed and be happy.

As a very young child, I'd place my hand on my heart and sing the words, “I pledge my heart;” then, I would draw my hand out away from me and sing, “I pledge my hand;” continuing on, “to God, and to my native land. To both of them, I will be true; for, that is what I ought to do.” I could feel the truth and power that these words invoked back then. I could feel the peace and security of making a covenant with God back then, a covenant concerning being faithful to Him and faithful to the cause of freedom that He ordained for me in this great land. I feel it still.

May we all bless the name of our God, and may God bless America.

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