America the Beautiful Town, Skips Pledge to the Flag
Katherine Lee Bates - She wrote America the Beautiful
Melissa Freitag - She Skipped the Pledge to the Flag
The Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts; on Cape Cod, is where Kathleen Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” in 1893.
Now, more than 100 years later, the usually quiet village is in the middle of a controversy started by a substitute selectman's chairman, who refused to begin a meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Melissa Freitag, who was elected in 2009, took the unusual action on April 24 by saying “I’d rather not (say the pledge) tonight,” after Selectman Kevin Murphy reminded her that the board recites the pledge at the start of every meeting.
The Board voted to do so, almost three years ago. Freitag reportedly was against the move at the time of the vote, but has not voiced objections since.
Her rejection of the pledge has caused a ripple on Cape Cod and it threatens to become a wave that will sweep across all of New England and perhaps the nation. Ed Lambert, who hosts the Cape’s number one radio program on WXTK, expressed amazement on his show, that Freitag would skip the pledge. He noted that instead, she read a poem at the beginning of the meeting.
“She said the meeting was running late,” said Lambert, “but she read a poem.” Lambert then recited the pledge for his listeners the morning after the meeting and noted that he did it in far less than 30 seconds.
The Cape Cod Times has run the story and Boston television stations have also covered it.
Freitag is a professor at a State school, the University of Massachusetts. She recently announced she will not seek re-election to the town board because she is pursuing further education at a private school near Boston.
Freitag was asked to chair the Selectman’s meeting when the regular chairwoman, Mary Pat Flynn, was unable to attend the session due to illness.
Freitag has defended her action, but public opinion seems to be heavily against her.
Callers on WXTK were unanimously critical.
Some Falmouth residents were angry that the other Selectmen did not challenge Freitag and force her to recite the pledge. Selectman Kevin Murphy who reminded Freitag to say the pledge, did not further object when Freitag said that as ‘acting chair’, she was skipping it.
Several residents said that if Freitag doesn’t want to recite the pledge, she should leave the board.
In case you forgot the lyrics to America the Beautiful. Here they are:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
and finally, here are the words that Melissa Freitag chose not to say:
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.