On June 17, the City Council of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb, voted unanimously to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings. A city council member tied the decision to “some racial equity initiatives going on in the city of St. Louis Park” and suggested that the Pledge is political:
[He] added that the meaning behind the tradition had changed since 1980, when city officials began saying the pledge during the Iran hostage crisis.
“Unfortunately, some of us feel like patriotism has been so politicized that it’s almost used as a weapon against people,” he said.
The council’s decision to ditch the pledge attracted a lot of publicity, particularly since President Trump–his eye on Minnesota in 2020–tweeted about it twice. On July 8, citizens critical of the city council’s decision packed a council meeting to protest. Alpha News attended and produced this video. What is most striking to me is the ongoing cluelessness of the city council members:
Frank Howard is a native of St. Louis Park and was a contemporary of ours at Dartmouth. He wrote this eloquent letter to the Mayor of St. Louis Park, protesting the city’s dismissal of the Pledge:
July 10, 2019
Re: Pledge of Allegiance
Dear Mayor Spano:
I am the eldest son of Frank J. Howard, former Mayor and Councilman at Large of St. Louis Park.
I am a graduate of St. Louis Park Senior High School, Class of 1966, and recipient of a wonderful education and childhood in our special town.
My father is now deceased after a long and successful life of service to his community, family, friends and nation.
He earned a Purple Heart on Guam and fought also on Guadalcanal, Okinawa and the Solomon Islands in the 6th Marine Division in World War II. He was in the occupation of Japan.
He moved his family to St. Louis Park from New York in 1952, first to an apartment at Meadowbrook Manor and then to Brook Avenue where he worked and raised his family.
He would have been deeply saddened at the Council’s recent unanimous decision to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of their meetings.
Deeply sad, because of the ignorance displayed by Council members.
Council members are quoted as saying, “We concluded that in order to create a more welcoming environment to a diverse community we’re going to forgo saying the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting” and that they did not feel saying the pledge was “necessary”, especially for non-citizens.
E pluribus unum
People come to America because it is America. They are not offended by our institutions but come here because of them.
It is precisely our great civic traditions and documents, including the Pledge of Allegiance, that are necessary – that have successfully worked to unite a “diverse” people.
“E pluribus unum” (Out of Many, One) appears on the Great Seal, which was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. It has long been considered the de facto motto of the United States. It expresses deep wisdom and is a model that has benefitted millions. There are those who seek to belittle our heritage and claim to see some inequality or harm in its expression – always in the name of some inchoate illusory ideal. We so easily discard the very time-tested tools that have unified a vast country.
My father would certainly hold more confidence in the traditions we have inherited than the fashionable conformity of the moment.
Frank J. Howard
This story has a happy ending. The objections of people like Frank Howard and the St. Louis Park residents who crowded the July 8 Council meeting have been heard. Last night, before another packed audience, the City Council voted unanimously to reinstate the Pledge. Sometimes, at least, the politically correct shibboleths of the moment give way to citizens wielding common sense.