The emotions of the pledge

The opinion-page column ``Ode to the flag,'' Oct. 6, asks, ``What about our tradition of separation of church and state?'' in regard to the addition of the words ``under God'' to the pledge. Separation of church and state does not mean that the United States must make no reference to God in the pledge. Separation means that no one religious denomination or church will be allowed to rule the American people. No church will be placed in a position of absolute or partial power which could force citizens to support it.

The right and freedom of each person to be governed by God is the mark of a true democracy. Jane McCaw Gronko, Fairhope, Ala.

This opinion-page columnist states that to salute the flag stirs strong personal emotions and that he is proud that his daughter recites the pledge of allegiance each morning. The salute stirs strong feelings in me as well, but of a different nature. It reminds me of totalitarian governments that require a daily recitation of obedience; of national dictators insecure in the loyalty of their citizens; of fanatic religious leaders chanting mindless litanies with their followers.

I have strong ties to my homeland - family, friends, memories - yet I am ultimately a citizen of the world. My loyalty must be global, as I feel part of the world family. An oath of allegiance to one ideology, nation, or flag is too narrow. We, the people of the earth, must understand our interdependence.

When my seven-year-old son stands to salute the flag each day in school, my heart says no. I want him to be proud of a national heritage that encourages freedom and civil rights. But he must also know that we have brothers and sisters around the globe. Margaret Baker Davis, LaVerne, Calif.

Militia is the people Regarding the letters column ``Bearing arms: Is it a right?,'' Oct. 6: I must correct the letter writer's mistaken view on the Second Amendment. This amendment clearly states that ``A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'' This right is reserved for ``the people,'' not for the military.

Please also note that the word ``militia'' does not mean military, it refers to all of the people, separate from any organized army. The term ``well-regulated'' means well supplied. These meanings are in accordance with common usage at the time of the writing of the Bill of Rights and are clear in the other writings of James Madison (the author of the Second Amendment). David Robinson, Hazelton, Pa.

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