Monday, November 14, 2011


Rooting through some of the historical papers of my family, I came across a couple of Declarations of Intentions of one of my great-grandfathers and his brother to become a US citizen 'renouncing forever all allegiance and fidelity to all foreign princes particularly Wilhelm, first Emperor of Germany', dated March, 1880. I assume my other German great-grandfather, although he had a Polish name, coming from Bergfriede Prussia, signed a similar one somewhat later though before fathering a Wilhelminia (my grandmother).Way to show your renunciation of allegiance, Great- Grandpa! but by then Wilhelm the second was in power. I know he came after his first son was born in Germany (1890). He had a second son in the US in 1891.By 1910 ( I have the census record for his street), he had 8 living children  ages 20 down to 4. My grandmother, baby number 4, was 13.

Allegiance, such a strange word. For my first couple of years in school in NY state, we dutifully pledged allegiance to the flag every morning. When I was in first grade, initially there was no flag, a fact my teacher brought up several times, as the new flag was still in production showing all 50 stars as opposed to the one showing just 48  stars we used the year before. If you asked me exactly what I was pledging, I would have to tell you that I had absolutely no idea. Once I moved to Michigan, I don't remember pledging every morning though maybe I just forgot.

But this will be no more for Michigan school children. A bill was already passed in one of the houses of the Michigan legislature making the pledge mandatory for all children, every morning, even for high schoolers. There will be inspections to make sure there is a flag displayed in every classroom. It will be up to the student to opt out for religious  reasons or if they are citizens from another country (very common in Ann Arbor with all the foreign grad students). So while Rome burns, a special committee is formed to make sure the fire hoses match the fireman's uniform? Way to focus on what is important, Michigan House!

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