I never gave much thought to a career as an attorney. I played one during a mock trial in high school. (My rival actually became a lawyer.) There are times, however, when misinformation has caused me to contemplate coming to the defense of someone, or something.

I was attending a wake for a family member of friends last year, when an older gentleman was holding forth to anyone who was listening. He said, “Kids today don’t even recite the pledge.” This sent my teacher sense tingling!

I had reason to believe that this sort of statement was prompted by erroneous information gathered from an unreliable news source. As a teacher four years removed from my days in the classroom, it was my duty to investigate this egregious accusation.

I drove over to my former school (Flower Hill Primary in Huntington) and spoke with Linda, the school secretary. She informed me that the Pledge of Allegiance is still recited by students every day.

I can still recall my teaching days, when classes would rotate each week to lead the school in reciting the pledge.

Being a tad on the
forgetful/overwhelmed side some mornings, I required a reminder from the school secretary, who would contact my room over the public address system.

“Mr. Lauter! Please send four or five children down to the main office to recite the pledge,” she would say.

All the hands in the class would rise simultaneously, accompanied by a chorus of “Me! Pick me!”

A bit later, as we heard our classmates recite the pledge over the loudspeaker, students and teacher would beam with pride. Upon their return with smiles blazing, I’d compliment them and reward them with paper stars, which could be redeemed for a prize when enough of them were accumulated.

Because of COVID-19, I am told, there’s been a temporary postponement of the gathering of the students to recite the pledge at Flower Hill. It has not, however, interfered with its daily recitation. According to Linda, they’re hoping to start it up again in this fall.

In reference to our respect for the flag, and some misinformation that has surfaced about its interpretation, I thought it would be interesting to share my research on its history.

The flag’s design (approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777) consisted of 13 alternating red and white stripes (significant of the original 13 states).

The white stripes stand for purity and innocence. The red stripes are significant for the qualities of valor and hardiness. The blue field, with white stars, stands for vigilance, perseverance and justice.

So, what does Old Glory mean to me? I’ll leave the final word to my late father, a decorated World War II submarine veteran.

When asked about the flag’s significance, my hero pointed to the blue field, with the white stars signifying the entire 50 states, and emotionally replied, “Love for all! If you’ve got that, you’ve got the whole package.”

Jim Lauter,


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