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As Long as We Remember...

July 22, 2002

America Must Live Up To Its Ideals

Derek Shackelford

Recently the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled parts of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. One would think living in America that the phrase "with liberty and justice for all" could be a point of disagreement, considering the history of this country.

We know that liberty has excluded some folk and justice. Well, let's just say that it depends upon the case and the people involved. Yet this phrase is not the one in question. The part "one nation under God" has been declared unconstitutional.

The reason stated was that it violated the constitutional rule of separation of church and state. Any person who recited the Pledge of Allegiance and included these words would be endorsing a religion, not to mention a religion sponsored by the government.

Land of the free and home of the brave can be utilized as a nice slogan. But when it comes time for America to live up to its ideals and beliefs, then in the words of the late R&B crooner Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On" should be the motto.

On September 11th, 2001, terrorism reared its ugly head here at home. The World Trade Center was brought to ruins. The Pentagon damaged, not to mention this country's most valuable resource - its people - murdered. Thousands were killed in a senseless act of violence.

Many lives were changed that day. People were kinder to each other, respectful of one another, and appreciated life in its fullness. The day of this tragedy people prayed. Folk who never prayed before prayed, and people who never thought about praying found a way to pray. Even the President of the United States quoted scripture during his speech that evening.

When America finds itself in trouble, that is the time when the USA calls out in the name of God. That day when tragedy struck, there was no time for an appeals process, no time for a decision about prayer being unconstitutional, and no time to decide whether government was endorsing a religion. Funny, how America thinks that God is simply a name, but not a force to be respected. Even in the City of Frederick the question of the location of theTen Commandments Monument has surfaced.

Now it is time to ease God back out of the picture. Put God back on the back burner. People may be offended, you know. Everything is safe now. We got terrorism under control. Now we have Homeland Security to protect us. Ultimately America may need to protect itself from destroying itself, hence some of the lyrics from Marvin Gaye's song of "What's Going On":

In one verse Gaye sang, "You see war is not the answer." Now America is talking about declaring war on Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Another verse states, "Picket lines and picket signs", sounds like Enron, WorldCom, and Xerox. White collar crime at its best. People who steal from the welfare system get prison time. Oh, but welfare for the rich is different. The old saying holds true - different strokes for different folks.

Gaye sang on in the next verse: "Don't punish me with brutality." America has police brutality. Examples include Inglewood, CA, and Enid, OK. At least these were the ones that were videotaped. Even in the city of Chicago, six off-duty sheriff deputies were acquitted of shooting at two unarmed African-Americans 24 times. The judges rationalization was that the deputies were acting like bozos and used bad judgment.

Gaye song still holds true, " What's Going On."

What we must realize is that patriotism doesn't just mean we wave a flag and sing God Bless America. Patriotism also means that if you love this country that you tell the truth. And the truth is that America needs to not only have nice songs and slogans, but have the people demand that America live up to its ideals.

In school I was taught the 3 R's - Reading, 'Rriting, and 'Rithmetic. Now it is time for America to practice a new three R's and not just two.

We had Remembrance services for the victims, and rightfully so. We have extracted Revenge on the so-called enemy. And now for the 3rd R, which we have forgotten. America needs to Repent. If history proves anything, all great empires fall. Just remember Rome and Babylon.

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