This Independence Day, I’ve been thinking about a word we don’t often use in our everyday vernacular: allegiance.

According to Webster, ‘allegiance’ means loyalty, a quality that does seem to be anemic in our current it’s-all-about-me culture.

I think back on my childhood when we pledged allegiance to our nation’s flag every school morning; when our teachers and parents taught us what it meant to be loyal to our country, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and the ideals of freedom and democracy our country was founded on.

We belted out “God Bless America,” “You’re a Grand Ole Flag” and “Here’s to the Red, White and Blue” at every turn. Didn’t matter if your people were Democrats or Republicans, we all joined hands and hearts and sang our lungs inside and out through pride in our country.

I witnessed my WWII and Korean War veteran father stand in respect, remove his hat and place it over his heart every time the national anthem was played, whether live or on TV. I, too, learned to stop wherever I was, stop talking, stand and salute the flag whenever the first bold notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” resounded. I’m guessing you did that too, my friend — am I right?

My third grade teacher was a Cuban immigrant turned citizen who loved America passionately. She was jubilantly grateful for every single freedom and every wonderful opportunity offered by her beloved adopted country. She gushed American pride more than anyone I knew. She taught us the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish so that each morning after we stood with our hands over our hearts and recited the Pledge in English, her soft, accented “En español” would cue us to recite it again in her native tongue. I remember seeing tears glistening in her eyes as 30 kiddos valiantly tried to wrap their stiff little tongues around the rolled rrr’s and u’s that sounded like oooh’s

Allegiance was important then, and it’s important now.

Perhaps this Independence Day we could pledge to instill a little more loyalty and respect for our flag and our country in ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. I’m game. Are you?

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” (Galatians 5:1 NIV).

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Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of over 40 books, including including the best-selling Too Blessed to Be Stressed series. Visit Debora at www.DeboraCoty.com