Letter to the editor: Response to “This I Believe” essay

Photo credit: Anchorage Daily News

Dear Editor:

We really enjoy reading the Stockbridge Community News, and after reading the essay, “This I Believe” by Keshava Demerath-Shanti in the August publication, as an American citizen I felt a need to respond.

This was a well thought out and written article. You may agree or disagree with the content when you first read it. However, if you go back and read it slowly multiple times and think about what is written, the author is not only writing about “This I Believe,” but is attempting in a subtle way to put doubt into the minds of others, both young and old, about the United States of America, the very foundation on which it was built, its history, traditions and most of all, undermine respect for it.

Respect / Definition of Respect by Merriam – Webster https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/respect: to feel admiration for (someone or something): to regard (someone or something) as being worthy of admiration because of good qualities: to act in a way which shows that you are aware of (someone’s rights, wishes, etc.).

In his article he wrote “because the line in the pledge “one nation under God” which I believe violates freedom of religion and separation of church and state, because I believe that having children pledge allegiance to the flag of their country everyday should be considered a form of brainwashing.”

Having been born in and starting at a very young age here in the United States of America, I along with almost all other young people of our generation regardless of race, religion or color were taught respect for our elders, our educators, our country, our flag and the rule of law and that made us Americans. If we showed disrespect we were disciplined not only by our parents or family but other adults and educators as well, to the point we learned to be respectful. That was and is not brainwashing!

The fact that the author was home schooled for 8 or more years prior to entering the public school system, he was taught whatever his parents or homeschooler thought necessary according to whatever faith, religion or ideals they believe in, and/or follow.

Perhaps in his home schooling he was not taught that there are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington, D.C. or that James Madison our fourth President known as the Father of our Constitution made the following statement:

We have staked the whole of our political Institutions upon the capacity of mankind for Self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control, to sustain ourselves according to The Ten Commandments of God.”

Or that Thomas Jefferson once said, “Have we forgotten our roots? We need to remember that this country was founded and designed around our belief in God and his messages to us in the “Holy Bible.”

Was he taught that 52 of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members of the established Orthodox churches in the colonies? Or that as you walk up the steps to the building that houses the U. S. Supreme court, you can see near the top of the building a row of the world’s lawgivers and each one is facing the one in the middle, who is facing forward with a full frontal view. The one in the center is Moses, and he is holding the Ten Commandments!

As you enter the Supreme Courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion. The Ten Commandments are even displayed above where the Supreme Court Judges sit. Was he taught that every session of Congress (House of Representatives) since 1777 has begun with prayer by a Chaplin who is paid by the taxpayers? Would you call that brainwashing?

When a country’s flag is raised and their National Anthem is played during the Olympics and people stand, is that brainwashing? Or respect?  When the same is done at a high school, college or professional sporting event, is that brainwashing? Or respect?

We need to be thankful that we live in a country where there is a separation of church and state, and because of that we are free not to pledge allegiance to anything we do not believe in. However; even though one may not wish to say “certain words” in any pledge, or song, does not mean they cannot stand and show respect and pride for the flag of the country in which they live.

In continuation of and at another point in his article he states, “because our Pledge of Allegiance says our country provides liberty and justice for all. However I believe that anyone who opens their eyes and looks at our country would be able to see that is not true.” 

Liberty and justice? Here is a young person who has been given the freedom to be home schooled, not forced to go to a public or private school. Yet a time came when he or his parents chose for him to do so. Was he taught that liberty and justice is only for a few or the country as a whole? Was he taught this at home, or is it something he heard or saw on the news?

Liberty and justice have been provided for him by those who respect and revere our flag, including the thousands who have died, so he could enjoy the many freedoms he has. This country, our country, the USA may not be perfect, but I am sure you will find very few countries in the world today that provide the liberty and justice for the vast majority of its law abiding citizens, that the United States of America does!

In some foreign countries if people openly display disrespect for their countries’ leaders, flag, pledge or anthem, they may be stoned, put in prison, work camps or executed without any liberty and justice!

Earlier in this article I mentioned being an American. An American may be English, French, Italian, Irish, German, Spanish , Polish, Russian or Greek, Native American, Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan and the list goes on.

An American may be a Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The difference is that in the USA, we are all free to worship as we choose, or not to believe in any faith, religion or supreme being at all.

These, in fact, are the people (Americans) who built a great America!

The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America recognizes that each person has the God-given right to the pursuit of happiness.

The Statue of Liberty, inscribed “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World,” was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.  It was designated as a National Monument in 1924. Many have been thankful and proud to have passed her when beginning a new life in this country.

Read the following and think about it.


I am the Flag of the United States of America

My name is “Old Glory

I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings – I stand watch in America’s halls of justice

I fly majestically over institutions of learning – I stand guard with power in the world

Look up and see me

I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice – I stand for freedom

I am confident – I am arrogant and I am proud

When I am flown with my fellow banners

My head is a little higher – My colors a little truer

I bow to no one

I am recognized all over the world

I am saluted – I am loved – I am revered – I am respected – I am feared

I have fought in every battle of every war for more than 200 years

I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattax

I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France

In the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome and the beaches of Normandy

Guam, Okinawa, Korea and KheSan, and Vietnam knows me

I am presently in the mountains of Afghanistan and the hot and dusty deserts of the world.

Wherever freedom is needed

I led my troops, I was dirty, battered and tired, But my soldiers cheered me and I was proud

I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries I have helped

It does not hurt for “I” am invincible

I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled in the streets of my county

And when it’s done by those by whom I’ve served in battle – it hurts

But I shall overcome – for I am strong

I have slipped the bonds of earth and stood watch over the unchartered frontier

From my vantage point on the moon

I have borne silent witness to all of America’s finest hours, But my finest hours are yet to come

When I am torn into strips and used for bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield,

I am humbled – but – I am Proud

When I am flown at half-mast to Honor my soldier ,  Or when I lie in the trebling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter

I am sad – but – I am Proud

I am the Flag of the United States of America

Will you stand the next time the flag of our country passes you or you are asked to stand during the Pledge Allegiance to our flag, or the singing of our National Anthem?

If you cannot or will not say or sing the words, at least stand and show respect.

If you choose to do neither, I challenge you as a young person to learn all you can about our history. All of it. Then go and do what you can while following the governing laws, rules and traditions of the United States of America to make whatever changes are necessary to make our country the best it can be for everyone.

If you choose not to accept the challenge, then perhaps you need to pursue a land where you can be proud and happy.

I am proud to be an American, and “This I Believe.”

Ronald L. Miller, Stockbridge resident

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