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.
I volunteer one day a week in one of our local schools. The daily reading of the Pledge of Allegiance across the Public Address system brings back memories. A different group of kids troop down to the office to lead the Pledge. It is a BIG DEAL.
Communication is the key to Command and Control
Flags were the primary means of communication in battles in the days before electronics. The opposing commanders would be on the crest of opposing knolls with their respective entourage. The knoll afforded a view of the conflict. It was also a place where combatants could look up and see the signalmen.
Each unit in the conflict had their own flag or color. The signalman would take direction from the commander with regard to which direction to press the attack or where to shift resources to buttress a flagging defender. The signalman would then communicate that information to the soldiers who were unable to see those global opportunities or risks due to their lower elevation.
Capture the Flag
Capture the flag was motivated by the economy of overwhelming the enemy's Command and Control center. Control of the flags meant that one had the means to either paralyze the enemy or even to cause it to attack itself.
Self destruction was not a huge risk in the days of hand-to-hand combat but became a real possibility with the advent of black powder and the smoke screen that heavy gunfire laid across the field of battle. That smoke made it very difficult for the guys on the ground to see anything in the horizontal plane. Another thing we forget is that approximately one third of adult humans have very poor vision if not corrected with glasses, contact lenses or corrective surgury. The soldiers of the late 1700s and 1800s held technology in their hands that could inflict death at distances greater than the individual soldier could discern facial features.
Follow the flag
Following the flag meant to follow the directions communicated by the flag. The Pledge of Allegiance attributes the following direction to the flag of the United States
- "Republic": We entrust elected officials to learn the issues and vote as our representatives, not the representatives of foreign corporations or elite scoundrels.
- One nation: Not 99%-1% nations sharing real estate. Not white-black-brown-yellow nations. Not Red-Blue State nations. Not Christian-Islamic-Hindu-atheist nations.
- "under God" was added to emphasize that the directive to remain one nation with undivided loyalties was not to be subject to the conveniences and expediencies of human agents. Rather, "one nation" transcends petty, partisan politics and politics that often degenerate to the spoils system where some constituencies are enriched at the expense of other constituencies.
- The authors understood the corrosive effects of us-them dynamics. Hence the addition of the word "indivisible"
- "Liberty and Justice": Like Voltaire's "Your right to swing your hand ends where my nose begins."
- Pursuit of Liberty is the engine that motivates. Liberty is the gas pedal.
- The precepts of Justice are the lines painted on the pavement and the guardrails that initially provide guidance and, in areas of severe hazard, serve as barriers. Justice serves as the brake pedal.