I am so glad the election is over. And not because of who won or lost — I’m SO tired of those political ads! I live in Florida and we were considered a ‘swing state’ for the 2012 election. For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of knowing what being a swing state means, it meant we were hammered with political ads on the radio and TV.
It was non-stop and I thanked myself every day for having a DVR where I can fast forward through the commercials. I can’t imagine how any of those ads really worked to change someone’s vote because everyone I know just tuned them out.
All of this election and patriotic talk reminded me of the time I was taught the Pledge of Allegiance. We learned the words in kindergarten and our teacher asked us to go home to practice. We were expected to say the Pledge every morning so we needed to memorize all the lines.
One night I was practicing in the bathroom while my older sister Lisa and I were getting ready for bed. She heard me repeat the words and said, ‘No, no, you’re saying that wrong.” She corrected me and went to bed. These were all such big words for a kindergarten aged kid that I accepted the help, changed my words and figured out how to memorize the rest.
I have no idea how long it took before I started to question the words I was saying. There was something not quite right about what my sister told me to say. So I went to the all-knowing oracle in my house, my mother.
Me: Mom, do you know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance?
Mom: Yeah, why do you ask?
Me: I’m saying the words at school and uh, I don’t get it. Who’s Richard Stands? Why is he in the Pledge?
Mom: Richard Stands? What? I don’t know what you mean.
Me: You know, the Pledge. It goes “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the Republic for RICHARD STANDS …” You know him. Who’s Richard Stands?
Cue uncontrollable laughter from my mom.
Mom: Oh no Penney … it’s to the Republic for WHICH IT STANDS. That’s how you say it. Who told you to say that?
Me: Lisa did. She said I wasn’t doing the Pledge right.
Mom: I’ll have a talk with your sister but you’re saying it wrong. There’s no one named Richard Stands in our Pledge.
Later that day I found out my sister had read this Richard Stands joke in some book about a girl named Ramona by Beverly Cleary. I wasn’t laughing when I discovered the truth but now, I can admit that it’s pretty funny. And occasionally, I still catch myself talking about Richard Stands when I say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Photo credit: Hands holding an American Flag