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Flagler School Board Finds New Way to Recite The Pledge: With Pixels and iPhone For All

| December 20, 2016

jacob oliva pledge of allegiance

How Superintendent Jacob Oliva saved the Pledge. (© FlaglerLive)

Thou Shalt Recite the Pledge at meetings.


It is the unwritten Eleventh Commandment of local governments, and not just in the conservative South: last month the overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal New Jersey State Senate unanimously approved a bill that would require all government bodies and agencies to display the American flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings, even though that’s mostly been the practice anyway.

In Flagler County, the practice is unfailing–at government meetings, advisory council meetings, committee meetings, classrooms, and so on. The school board even makes sure to have an honor guard led by its Junior ROTC students start every business meeting, with the live singing of the National Anthem to boot: when the promised singer didn’t show up at a recent meeting, one of the board members led the audience in a collective performance.

But when the Flagler County School Board gathered today for a noon workshop, dubbed a “retreat,” at the county’s Cattlemen’s Hall, on the deserted grounds of the county fairgrounds, it faced what could have been a minor crisis.

There was no flag. Not even at Cattlemen’s Hall, usually a hothouse of patriotism.

“We don’t have a flag,” Trevor Tucker, the board’s new chairman, whose idea it was to retreat to the hall, said. Then the fateful words: “We’ll skip the Pledge.” Tucker was characteristically in a hurry to get down to business.

There was no audience to speak of, no one who would have objected, no penalties for not reciting the Pledge. One of the board members was missing. But some of Tucker’s remaining colleagues seemed a bit uncomfortable. What if words of the skipped Pledge got out, you could almost hear them think–excusable fears in an age when the slightest doubt about a politician’s patriotism, however bogus the charge, could spell doom at the ballot box.

There was word about hunting down a flag. It was the county fairgrounds, after all (it was at a world’s fair in Chicago that the Pledge had its debut), though no one seemed interested in trotting outside, facing the grounds’ flagpole and reciting: it was damp and unusually, seasonably cold. Janet McDonald then suggested bringing a flag of her own. She apparently keeps one in her car. She is also facing John Fisher in a re-match in the next election, Fisher being the county’s dean emeritus of all things patriotic: he could have made hay with whispered words of a skipped pledge.

Colleen Conklin was intrigued, particularly about the flag-in-the-car part.

But by then Jacob Oliva, who’s paid to resolve critical issues for the board, resolved this one in Flagler School District-style: with technology. While board members were deliberating over what to do, he’d googled a Flag on his smart phone. In living color. Problem solved.

Everyone got up, Oliva held out the phone so it faced the five other people around the table (he and Tucker had to make do with imagination and the white rim of the phone), hands went over hearts, and the words of Francis Bellamy, that lyrical socialist, spilled out at Cattlemen’s Hall.

pledge of allegiance flagler county school board

‘I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands…’ Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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11 Responses for “Flagler School Board Finds New Way to Recite The Pledge: With Pixels and iPhone For All”

  1. Dave says:

    I never did say the pledge of allegiance, I was born and raised on the U.S. as was both my parents ,I remember being in 3rd grade, Bunnell Elementary. They would make everyone stand and recite the Pledge. It always felt unatural so I always refused even when they would hand out punishment, i wasnt the only chold who would.something about being made to do something made me not want to do it. I was very young, maybe I didn’t understand it’s meaning, maybe I still dont. I actually don’t remember anyone breaking it down to explain. To blindly do something because everyone says you should is like the old comparison to jumping off a bridge if everyone else was.

  2. Zach says:

    Dave I get what you’re saying, but reciting the Pledge of Allegiance does not make you a conformist. By definition, you are giving a solem promise to the republic. To me, it’s about your American brethren and sisters standing next to you, all apart of something bigger then themselves.This great nation has a wide range of people with many different opinions and views, but the only thing that we all have in common is that flag and that we are all Americans. In a time where the flag is underattack because of inequality it should actually be raised higher as ever as something we can all come together for. No matter of your background. To the School Board thank you for all you do for this county. God Bless you Dave and God Bless these United States of America.

  3. So hypocritical says:

    You can’t pray to God but you can pray to a piece of material. I was always told you can’t serve two Gods. The anger directed at those who respectfully don’t share in this reverence is similar to what King Nebuchadnezzar did to the three young Hebrew men. Throwing them in a fiery furnace for not bowing to his kingdoms pledge/anthem. Now watch the fake christian patriots go nuts and try to justify there stance after reading this.

  4. Igato Takalika says:

    Herd mentality.

  5. Rich H. says:

    Good for you guys. That is creative. As a 27 years veteran, of the U. S..Army, it is greatly appreciated. When I was in school, saying the Pledge of allegiance was an honor as the meaning was explained to us. Thank you again.

  6. Rich says:

    Did you ever stop to think about the words Dave? If you did, maybe, just maybe, some little bit of patriotism and appreciation for this country would have sunk in.

  7. really says:

    so Dave I am forced to ask the question, to whom do you pledge allegiance to?

  8. Dave says:

    Really, I’ve never made a pledge of allegiance, I’ve always been aware of the “One Nation under God” line in the pledge and I was aware that in this free country not all of us believe in a God, not that I didn’t or don’t but it didn’t seem to include everyone,but only those who believe in God. That seemed wrong. Like we were excluding people. I don’t go to church nor do I pray everyday but that does not mean I don’t believe in a God. I love my country but to “pledge allegiance” “under god” always seemed odd.

  9. Dave says:

    I pledge allegiance to family and friends ,this planet and the people upon it, we can all love it, hand in hand, one earth under the stars, with respect and kindNess for all : )

  10. The Ghost of America says:

    I don’t recall anyone passing legislation saying that you can’t pray to god. I mean, there’s legislation regarding opening public meetings with prayer, but let’s be honest here – if you’re intent on praying in public you aren’t really a Christian, because real Christians have read Matthew 6:5-6 and know that only hypocrites pray in public.

  11. So hypocritical says:

    @ The Ghost of America you’ve proven my point why pray to a piece of material in public then? Most people get more upset over supposed disrespect of their god of patriotism, and nationalism the USA more than they do someone who is trying to practice their religious right. Furthermore one does not have to make a spectacle of themselves to pray in public, one can walk and pray quietly without a person knowing a real Christian can pray anywhere, anytime under any circumstance. The pledge on the other hand demands vocal, visual and physical participation, a ritual.

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