My education began at Kettleman City, Calif., elementary school.
My earliest memories were of every morning at school, standing, placing my right hand over my heart, and saying: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
When we had assemblies, we always sang the Star Spangled Banner. In glee club, we sang lots of patriotic songs.
We were in World War II, and believe me, at that time, everyone was a patriot.
My father left his job with Shell Oil Co. and enlisted in the Army Air Corps (the Air Force was not yet established). My mother worked outside the home because there was a shortage of people to do the regular jobs, as many people were in some way involved in the war effort.
My 4-year-old sister, Jo Anna, and I were also involved in the war effort in our own small way. We would prepare the evening meal in order that when Mom got home from her job, dinner would be ready.
We grew our “Victory Garden," and I not only worked in the garden, but dug a compost pit and carried vegetable material that was not eaten to that pit.
During those war years, radio stations signed off at midnight by playing the national anthem. One night, when I was about eight years old, I was awakened when I heard the anthem being played. I got out of bed, stood at attention with my hand over my heart until it finished.
During the war, every American made sacrifices — many of them the ultimate — while those of us at home were subjected to rationing of food, gasoline and tires. The speed limit was 35 miles per hour in order to conserve gasoline and tires. People, especially children, collected scrap metal and tires, so that they could be recycled.
We studied the U.S. Constitution in eighth grade. In order to graduate from that grade, we had to pass a test of our knowledge of the Constitution.
My only memory of breaking school rules was when the principal caught me running in the hall. She told me to go to her office. It wasn’t long before my Mom and the principal arrived. Mom had explained to the principal that she had come to pick me up, and told me to get my jacket from my locker because we were going to pick up my Dad who was coming home on leave. The principal told me that she understood why I was running, and that I was not in trouble.
My education and experiences during those war years caused me to be an American patriot for the rest of my life.
It breaks my heart to now see so many un-American people living in my country and voicing their un-American opinions. I can only conclude that those people are a mix of ignorance of what it means to be an American, and others have agendas to divide and destroy my great country.
Those people must have pledged their allegiance to our flag during their lives, which tells me that those people lack principles. It may be that many of those people are following the herd ignorance. Worse, however, are the powerful people with their agenda to destroy America, and worse yet are our elected leaders that stand by, allowing my country to fail while protecting their established positions of power.
If the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance — “and justice for all” — are not implemented soon, my country is lost.
Robert Hartley is an oil and oil and gas consultant.