My first day in American school started out with The Pledge of Allegiance. As though I wasn’t already frightened enough, what with a huge round of immunizations the day before, boys in my classroom (I previously attended an all-girls private school) and being introduced by my teacher as the new girl from Japan (not Japanese, not even a little bit) - I had never heard of The Pledge of Allegiance. Everyone stood up and faced the flag with their hands on their hearts and I lost it. Every overwhelming aspect of that day so far was felt, and the fact that I didn’t know what we were doing with our hands over our hearts seemed to be the hardest of all. I felt my eyes well with tears, and ran to the bathroom to sob.
When I got home that night, I was determined to memorize that thing. My mom printed it out for me from the internet, and I studied it all night. I had always been good at memorizing poems, and when I recited it to my dad over the phone (he was finishing up business in Japan), I had never been so proud. I showed up nervous for class the next morning, and stood up proudly when the class did, placed the right hand over my heart, and almost yelled The Pledge with my class. I felt like everyone was watching me, ready to see me mess up and start crying again, which made me want to say it even louder.
Looking back on that experience, I feel so grateful for a country that believes that we are “One nation, under God.” Until you live without that, I don’t think you can fully appreciate it.
I hope your Fourth of July is wonderful.