Burning the Flag

5 Apr

The flag is the chief symbol of faith and the most vivid sign of common loyalty.  It is treated with a ritualistic respect that emphasizes its sacredness.  There are specified forms for saluting, “dipping,” lowering, and “hoisting” the flag, and hats are removed when it passes by.  All over the United States, thousands of school children are requires to recite daily with ritualistic gestures the pledge of allegiance to the “flag and to the country for which it stands.”

Some doubt has been cast upon the value of compulsory and frequent ritual.  Mr William McAndrew suggests that when the pledge of allegiance to the flag is gone over repeatedly, it is likely to become a meaningless ceremony.  Some children have been found to be saying the wrong words.  They get the tune, but the words might as well be a string of  nonsense syllables so far as their meaning is concerned.  Psychologists have asserted that the daily flag salute actually increases indifference instead of destroying it.

There seems to be a natural tendency in matters of patriotism as well as religion, for men to emphasize increasingly details of ritual that should be secondary in importance.  The symbol becomes sacred itself instead of  merely the representative of something sacred.  Thus, we may find loyalty to a “fuehrer,” or to a monarchy stressed more than loyalty to the state.

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