The Pledge of Allegiance has never sounded so good

Published 3:56 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

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Life in the slow lane

by Michael Baughman

Life in the slow lane

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“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…

I know you know those words. You and I likely first learned them in elementary school where we said the pledge at the beginning of every school day. For most children, myself included, saying the pledge was a pretty rote experience. Just another ritual in an otherwise normal day. There was rarely anything exciting or joyful about saying the pledge.

I fully recognize that anyone who has served in the armed forces may take offense to that statement, and understandably so. But I grew up in the 1980s; there was no war, draft or threat of nuclear annihilation. Nor was there a Great Depression, Smallpox or Polio. I had a pretty sheltered childhood compared to my parents and grandparents. The most traumatic thing I remember happening to our country was the Challenger Space Shuttle blowing up in front of our eyes on national television with a teacher on board. I was watching it from my fourth grade classroom. That was a horrible national tragedy, but still no threat of attack by a foreign adversary or life-threatening disease.

My parents’ parents grew up during the Great Depression. They had very formative memories of having very little and not knowing where their next meal or paycheck was coming from. My grandparents always had big gardens and large freezers filled with months of food, most of it grown and harvested on their own farms. They were prepared for the next Great Depression. I’m pretty sure my grandfather would have lived just fine for months on cornbread and buttermilk.

Fast forward to today: These are unusual and frightening times. My heart and gratitude go out to all of the essential workers who don’t get to shelter in place while working from the comfort and safety of their own homes. To all of our healthcare, government and other essential workers, thank you for the critical and lifesaving work you are doing ― and will be doing ― over the coming weeks and months. For the rest of us, please stay home so we can slow the spread of this pandemic and speed up a return to our old lives, or shall I say our new norm.

We have homeschooled our kids for the past five years so for us it’s life as usual in many respects. (As usual as life can be with a vivacious two-year-old who is constantly climbing on top of something she shouldn’t be.) I am now working from home as opposed to my office in downtown Tryon. I’m much more aware of the daily rhythms of my children as they go through their day. And if there was ever a time to honor working mothers who also homeschool (whether they already did it or are learning and adapting on-the-fly once schools closed), that time is now. Watching my wife juggle her own career as a writer/producer while planning and leading the entire school day for our three kids has only reminded me just how incredible of a human being she is.

Every morning my kids say The Pledge of Allegiance to start their school day. Only now Luna, the aforementioned two-year-old, says it as well. And at the end, everyone celebrates with screams, cheers and dancing. It’s a daily reminder to me that we are the lucky ones, those who are able to shelter in place with our families. Sure, everyday feels like a Tuesday but what a wonderful Tuesday it is. May you find comfort, joy and contentment in the little daily rituals that we used to take for granted.