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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

How We Honor America

I was shocked, disappointed, and disapproving when I heard this news. The United States Armed Forces soccer team, the North Carolina Courage, was dishonored with boos by fans of their opponent, the Portland, Oregon women’s soccer team, during a pre-game, on-field ceremony in which rhe North Carolina Courage took their traditional Oath of Enlistment. Shortly afterward, North Carolina Courage trounced Portland Thorns by 6-0." I was pleased to see karma kick in.


The pledge reads as follows –

“I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”*


The Oath of Enlistment is taken by everyone enlisting to serve in a branch of the United States military, or in civilian affiliates such as Peace Corps. I remember taking the oath very seriously when I was inducted into Peace Corps service in-country in Mali, West Africa. When the Peace Corps Director for Mali asked me to repeat after him, "I will support and defend...against all enemies...", I questioned him as to just what I was committing to. Exactly how might I be called upon to "support and defend"; and which "enemies" did they anticipate? I was fairly young, idealistic, and charged with humanitarian goodwill for the Malian people in the country to which I had been assigned. I had not anticipated that I would be required to swear myself ready for war. The Peace Corps Director for Mali had no answers for me, he just snarled softly "Do you want to be in Peace Corps, or not?" I complied and took the oath so that I might serve in Peace Corps, but I did not like being forced to go against my comprehension and conscience. I would have been willing to service in the military, and to meet every obligation that entailed, but I did not think that it was right to be forced to take a military oath for what I perceived as civilian, humanitarian service in Peace Corps.

I recall balking in a similar way in the first grade of elementary school when I was required to take the Pledge of Allegiance each morning along with the rest of my class. Even at that tender age I recognized the solemnity of taking an oath, and I was concerned because I could not make out what the oath actually meant. I was a child who did not want to say anything that was not true. Also, a prayer to God followed the Pledge of Allegiance at the school that I attended. I was aware that there were different religions and I did not know which God we were praying to in elementary school, but I prayed along with everyone else because I had no choice. The teachers firmly told me to take the oath, to say the prayer, and I obediently did so, even though it made me feel dishonest. I still resent that, although I certainly appreciate my education.

Today I am old, and hopefully somewhat wise, and I take the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag when the occasion calls for it. I take it whole-heartedly, even with fervor. But it took me a lifetime to unerstand and come to it.

"The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: "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.", should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.


So now my question is: do we need a new way of honoring America, beyond the stylings of the 1700s?

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* "This oath, renouncing all allegiance to King George (of Great Britain) and acknowledging the independence of the United States, did end with "So help me God.". The first oath written specifically for the military, however, the oath first written in 1775 and revised in 1776 and taken by all enlisted soldiers, did not include the words."


Caption: Honoring The Red White And Blue Of America In A New Way

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019

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