By Joshua Koepp
[Shared with the parents of our Cub Scout pack at our den orientation meeting.]
Part of the Cub Scout program is to have a flag ceremony and recite the Pledge of Allegiance at den and pack meetings. In light of recent events, discussions, and peaceful protests, I thought I’d share a bit of my personal reflection so you could know where your Cubmaster is coming from.
The first time I led the Pedge of Allegiance at a Cub Scout meeting, I had an odd feeling. I had to think for a while about where that feeling came from. Why would I feel strange? After all, I had grown up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school. I’d said it so many times that I didn’t even need to think about the words.
So I took some time to really think about the text of the Pledge. What stood out to me the most were the last three words: Liberty and justice for all. To me, that is the heart of the Pledge of Allegiance, and there was no doubt in my mind that I believed in that. Of the five words in that phrase, the one that is the most important to me is the last one: All.
However, I realized that the odd feeling I had when I led the Pledge of Allegiance did not come from whether or not I believed in it. It came from the fact that I was leading a group of wonderful, impressionable boys to recite a script that started with the words: “I pledge allegiance.”
Throughout history sincere, eager-to-please-and-follow boys have been inspired and sometimes indoctrinated to pledge allegiance. They have pledged to many different people, organizations, creeds, and governments. Sometimes the purpose was to benefit the boys, guide their energy, and help them grow. Other times, the purpose was to control, exploit, and profit.
As a father and Cubmaster, it is my mission to, at all times, be working for the positive development of our children. I encourage each adult to talk with your scout(s) about what the ideals of “liberty and justice for all” mean to you, your family, and our country. How do we live that out? How do we change when we find that we are not living it out? Then, when we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, it can be a reminder to recommit to our highest ideals, both individually and as a nation.