I remember that it was always in 2nd homeroom period in high school when the crackle of the speaker perked up our ears and we immediately stood up with hand over heart, eyes tilted to the American flag, and we began to recite “The Pledge of the Allegiance.” Not one person/student stumbled over the words. Sure, we may have been tired and grumbled about school work and the teachers, but for that time that we stood up to salute the American flag and our country and say “The Pledge of Allegiance”, we were together. We were united. We were not divided.
Recently, someone told me that “The Pledge of Allegiance” is no longer recited in schools. Teachers out there, I implore if this is true and, if so, why is it the case that your school no longer has students recite “The Pledge of Allegiance”? Do you remember saying the “Pledge of Allegiance” when you were growing up?
I was completely shocked, and, especially, saddened when someone told me that the “Pledge of Allegiance” is no longer said in schools. For, I was and am immensely proud to be ABC-American-Born Chinese. The stories and experiences of China and Taiwan that my parents experienced are minimally shared and massively scattered. All my father will say is, “I always think of ‘The American Dream’ where you reap the rewards and results from your hard work and efforts. We are lucky to live in the United States of America. You would probably be dead by now if we were still in China. All those things you write about, Mary…you would probably be imprisoned. In America, you think anything is possible. In America, you think of freedom.”
I’ve been to mainland China one time in my life thus far. That mainland China was the tourist area, and, yet, it was an eye-opening experience to me how lucky and blessed that I am that I was born in the U.S.A. and how much my parents sacrificed and had fought for freedom. My parents did EVERYTHING on their own legally and without the help of family and friends. They had to and did actually learn brand new languages, customs, cultures, and way of living and life. All for freedom.
Yes, freedom. Freedom is a beautiful thing. Freedom is also a scary thing. There is a balance of freedom—too much freedom is not good as it teeters on entitlement to “I am free to have anything and everything I want” and too little freedom is not good as it teeters on suppression and oppression. Freedom comes with a lot of responsibility, excitement, fear, and, most of all, prices. Heavy prices, mind you. There are heavy prices and weights of freedom that has even cost lives.
Lately, I’ve been contemplating the prices of freedom and if people really are free and realize their freedom and how lucky they are to have it,
To me, freedom is NOT free. There is a price to everything and anything. There are sacrifices we do not see publicly but suffer privately for freedom. We must work hard to reap benefits of what we earn rather than take free rides or free favors for what we perceive we are entitled to.
What do you think entitlement is? Do you think entitlement is an expectation? What is the price of freedom? Are you proud of the country you live in? Do you think anyone is ever really free?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,