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America the Beautiful Town, Skips Pledge to the Flag

Updated on April 25, 2012

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!

America! America!

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.



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    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 5 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks for reading and commenting dahoglund. The outrage here was universal. On his radio show every Friday morning , Cape Cod radio host Ed Lambert of WXTK, recites the Pledge and he always notes that it takes just a few seconds to do it. He's on to something because his show is by far the most popular radio program among Cape Cod's 200,000 locals and about a million summer tourists.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I can't recall when I have been anywhere taht the pledge is recited but I don't get around much. In this case, the pledge should have been recited because the group had previously agreed to do so.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 5 years ago from Cape Cod

      Hi Brenda Durham and thanks so much for commenting. I couldn't agree with you more and I cetainly couldn't say it better !

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 5 years ago from Cape Cod

      Well Keirnanholland thanks very much for your input. I cannot agree with anything you say, but I appreciate your comment and your right to say it.

      Re the pledge. When I first started saying it there was no reference to any deity. The words 'under God' were added sometime in the 1950s. I don't care if they are taken out or left in. I stand by the pledge either way and I stand by the republic for which it stands. I still happen to think that this still is one of the greatest nations on earth - a country that (along with Canada and Britain & others) saved the world in the 1940s.

      Then our country rebuilt the world in the 1950s. War brats, such as myself, born in the 1940s probably tend to be a bit more sentimental about the States than some of the younger generation (Military people & families excepted),

    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 5 years ago

      I don't think most Christians see the Flag as a god at all.

      Yes, it's true that we Christians can go anywhere, but I'm pretty sure most of us will fight tooth and nail to keep our Country in God's good graces instead of deserting it at the hand of the liberal agenda.

    • keirnanholland profile image

      pulled name 5 years ago from nowhere

      Some Christians will not recite the pledge of allegiance because the flag can be misinterpretted as a god, so reciting allegiance to any flag is morally wrong.. My father (83 yo) said his father didn't believe in saying the pledge of allegiance and especially not to hold his hand on his heart. He also said that it wasn't until until sometime later in his schooling (in Oklahoma) that children were requires to say the pledge.

      I think such things have been blown out of proportion. I keep telling teh Christians, if America goes by the wayside, your country isn't America, its God and you can go anywhere.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      James, I am very grateful for your comment and your patriotic stand. I think that most of us who love this nation, are proud to recite the pledge. I still swell with awe, joy, and wonder, when I hear it or when I say it. I feel the same way about the Star Spangled Banner. I can't get enough of it.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this excellent and pithy Hub. I agree with you 100%. If she won't even say the Pledge of Allegiance she has no business serving in government. Exile would be best.

      By the way, thanks for the words to "America the Beautiful." What a magnificent song it is and the lyrics are sublime.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Hi Brenda. The meeting was Monday night. When Freitag showed up, she was greeted by hundreds of Cape Cod residents who saluted the flag together outside Town Hall.

      Later, inside, Freitag wanted to put the whole incident behind her and she did recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. She left out the 'under God' part. That part of the pledge was not in the original wording. It was added sometime in the 1950s or 60s. No one seemed to mind that she left it out. People seemed satisfied that she did finally make the pledge.

    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 6 years ago

      What day is this week's meeting, Bill? I'm very curious, and anxious, to hear how this turns out!

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      I just learned that Freitag will again be 'Acting Chair' at this week's Selectman's meeting. I will let you know if she again decides to skip the pledge. There will be quite a few media members at the meeting. More than a dozen microphones and tv cameras will be recording the session, making it uncomfortable for the town and the rest of the Selectmen.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Ronnie, you are right. You not only need to swear allegiance, but must give it when needed. Thankyou very much for the comment. It is much appreciated.

    • profile image

      R. J. Lefebvre 6 years ago


      I expect there have been many people who pledged allegiance, but when it came time to honor the meaning of allegiance, they pursued their own wants despite the need of others. Allegiance of 'support and comfort' for your fellow countrymen. Action has more power than words!


    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      I have forwarded all the information that I have to the Bill O'Reilly program. I have great hopes that he will look into this and will crown Melissa Freitag A PINHEAD OF THE FIRST RANK!

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks for bringing your perspective to this. Larry, the Board did have a policy of starting each meeting with the pledge. It was voted on, a few years ago. She decided as 'acting chair', not to recite the pledge. The person whom she defeated for the Selectman's seat, is outraged by her action. Everybody's weighing in here on Cape Cod, and almost everyone agrees that she was wrong. The item was on page one of the Cape Cod Times, it was all over local radio, and the Boston TV stations are picking up on it.

      I am sending an email to Bill O'Reilly to try and get her on the "PINHEADS & PATRIOTS" segment.

      I am pretty sure that Bill is going to call Melissa Freitag ....... A PINHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 6 years ago

      First, I think the action not to say the pledge was wrong. However, every public body does not begin with the pledge. There is no logical explanation for not following the accepted format of the meeting, unless it was an emergency meeting call for an urgent purpose, which does not appear to be the case. I covered a lot of city council meetings during my newspaper career and the pledge was often a source of contention. In one place I work, the person leading the pledge said that after you say "one nation, under God..." there should be no pause. She raised this at several meetings. People ignore her. In another community, a councilman objected to the flag having a gold fringe, claiming it was a war time flag. People can always find something to use as a basis for creating a controversy. It is usually an issue of ego.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Three cheers for you Jim. I fully agree!

    • profile image

      Jim D 6 years ago


    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Right on Brenda. I am sick of 'politically correct'. If somebody does not want to pledge allegiance to our flag, then they are saying they have no allegiance to U.S. and to us. Shame on her.

    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 6 years ago

      Yeah she should've resigned immediately. The other Board members (and usually anyone in the general public takes part in the reciting of the Pledge) shouldn't have forced her to say the Pledge, but they should've told her to leave immediately. Heck, she should've been told she could move to Russia or somewhere since she doesn't want to be an American citizen!


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