Gromack and Stewart Respond to Pledge Controversy

Mar. 7, 2012

When the chair of the New City Library Board of Trustees Terri Thal removed the Pledge of Allegiance from the opening of board meetings it set off a firestorm across Rockland. We shared four quotes from local officials last week. Here are two more.

“Since my days as a Rockland County Legislator, NYS Assemblyman and now Clarkstown Supervisor every governmental meeting I have been a part of starts with the Pledge of Allegiance. I believe every governmental meeting should start off with the Pledge.”
– Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack

“Yes, Orangetown Town Board, planning board and many civic organizations begin meetings with the Pledge. Personally, I always look forward to the words “with liberty and justice for all” because it is a beautiful and inspiring ideal that reminds me of the civil rights, women’s equality, labor and other struggles that have made the USA a great place to live. The “under God” part is confusing because we are government of, for and by the people, with separation of church and state. I do understand that these words were added to the Pledge more recently and I wonder whether or how the Pledge will evolve in the future.”
– Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart

Editor’s response to Stewart – The current version of the Pledge was updated to include the phrase “Under God” 58 years ago in 1954. This occurred only 12 years after the Congress officially adopted the Pledge. Thus for 58 of the Pledge’s 70 official years, it has made use of the phrase “Under God.” Several other changes had also been made to the Pledge since its first adaption in 1892.
The two words “Under God” came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as transcribed by news reporters who covered the actual event. President Eisenhower signed a bill rewording the Pledge in 1954, stating it was a way for America to reaffirm that “spiritual weapons” were the nation’s most powerful tool, as opposed to the machines of war; a symbolic commentary coming from the lead general in the World War II effort. Notably, the founders of America referenced the almighty as being the source of our natural rights.