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Protecting the Pledge of Allegiance

By By Jo Bonner
Last week, by a vote of 260-167, the House passed H.R. 2389, the Pledge Protection Act, which will protect the right of Americans to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Every time I see the words, "In God We Trust" above the speaker's chair in the House chamber, I am reminded of the significance those words hold for our great nation.
From the unalienable rights that Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence to the money that is minted just blocks from the Capitol, our nation has and will continue to publicly recognize God's providence and guidance.
Unfortunately, the recognition of God, contained within the Pledge of Allegiance, has provided leverage for some courts to claim that reciting our Pledge is unconstitutional.
First written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy for the Boston magazine "The Youth's Companion," the Pledge was printed on leaflets and sent to schools throughout the country. For decades, it has been a morning ritual in most schools throughout the country, and at the beginning of each daily session, we in Congress recite the Pledge to remind us of our devotion to this great country.
In 1954, Congress recognized the need to add the phrase "under God" to our Pledge of Allegiance. When President Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Flag Day (June 14, 1954), he said, "These words ("under God") will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded.
For 46 years, the phrase "under God" was hailed by Americans and remained uncontested as both a patriotic oath and a public prayer. Yet in 2002, courts ruled these two words were unconstitutional for the Pledge of Allegiance to remain a part of American life.
Congress acted swiftly to reverse the damage caused by such a ruling and preserve the patriotic act of reciting the Pledge. In 2002, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly supported resolutions rebuking the court and upholding the Pledge of Allegiance; however, Congress failed to invoke our authority to prevent activist courts from destroying the American institution that is the Pledge of Allegiance.
So, the House acted last week to protect America's Pledge of Allegiance. This legislation will now go to the Senate, and I urge them to pass this bill. The Pledge embodies our patriotism and must be preserved to ensure that the ideals of America will continue for generations to come.
Some South Alabamians Fleeing Lebanon
The recent attack on Israel by the terrorist organization, Hezbollah, located in Lebanon, has led Israel to rightfully defend itself, and suddenly, thousands of American citizens found themselves in the cross-fire and in need of help getting out of harm's way.
The situation remains fluid and volatile, and at the writing of this column, almost 4,000 Americans had been evacuated from Lebanon and another 400 citizens made it out by land to Syria.
Efforts continue to move all American citizens who want to leave. U.S. military ships and aircraft have been used in the process, as well as several chartered ships and, in some cases, buses.
The USS Nashville transported 1,000 citizens from Lebanon to Cyprus. The U.S. Navy is also using the guided missile destroyers, the USS Gonzalez and the USS Barry, and the USS Mount Whitney, a command and control ship. At the time of this writing, four more U.S. Navy ships were en route to the area.
An estimated 20 Mobile families are among the thousands of American citizens trying to escape Lebanon. Some of these families have contacted my office for assistance in leaving. My office has worked with the State Department to ensure they are on the list of individuals to be evacuated and that they get out as soon as humanly possible.
Should you have family or friends who are still trying to leave Lebanon, please contact my office or the State Department at 1-888-407-4747. For the latest information from the State Department, please visit their website at http://travel.state.gov.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.