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The Truth Behind the Obama Pledge of Allegiance Photo

Obama Pledge Photo
(ABC News)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The problem with that being when you have a thousand words, there are a million ways they can be misconstrued.

There are two things I generally try to avoid talking about, religion and politics. Two subjects so polarizing they’re almost always guaranteed to start an argument, and I’d prefer to avoid the unnecessary confrontation all together. Not to say people don’t have a right to their opinion, we live in ‘Murica dag nabbit! A country founded on the belief that we should be free to say whatever is on our mind without fear of persecution, and a country where hillbilly’s who have made millions designing duck calls get thrown into wacky adventures is deemed “reality” (more on that some other time).

What I’ve found with these two topics is that people on either side of the issue are so passionate about their belief, they’re unwilling to even entertain any suggestion of the opposite viewpoint. Their way is THE way, the ONLY way, and everyone else is wrong. And thanks to this social media world we now live in, those same people have been able to band together with others who share their stance and attempt to spread that stance on the rest of us whether we want it or not. A “strength in numbers” mentality if you will.

Therein lies the problem. Both sides are so hellbent on getting the rest of us to buy into what they’re selling, and prove the other side is full of it, they’ll take anything that remotely looks or sounds like something that falls in line with their belief and share it with the world with the simple click of button. Not bothering to take a few minutes to do some research and see if what they’re sharing has any factual basis.

Case in point, the photo above. I’ve seen it (or some variation of it) shared numerous times by Facebook friends lately, and at first I did what I do with most politically themed posts I see on Facebook, I ignored it. Then I kept seeing it again, and again — and again, and…well, you get the idea.

If you were to take this at face value and believe the caption some total stranger attached to it, it would appear that at some point in time our President neglected to place his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance while turning his back on our flag. Therefore he is un-American and should be thrust out of office immediately, banished from this great country forever! OK, so I embellished a bit there at the end, but that just goes to show how easy it is to spin something your way.

Here’s the problem. That’s not what’s going on, not exactly anyway. A quick search on the award winning, fact checking websites, Snopes.com, and PolitiFact.org, reveals this photo (actually a still from video shot by ABC News) was taken in September 2007 when now-President Obama, was then-Senator Obama, who at the time was making his first run at the White House. So right off the bat, claiming that this is “the way our country is being lead” is incorrect as Obama was not the leader of this country at the time.

The video was taken during a steak fry event in Iowa in which the top six Democrat candidates for President were invited to attend. The other’s pictured are then-Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, and former First Lady, and then-Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. It should also be noted this video was shot during a performance of our National Anthem, NOT the Pledge of Allegiance.

According to U.S. Flag Code (provided by Snopes), the proper conduct during any rendition of the national anthem is as follows:

…individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;

(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and

(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and

(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

By the definition of line (C), Obama is in clear violation of code. However, is that misstep an indication of his ability to lead, that, to me, is debatable. Both Snopes and Politifact quote Anne Garside, director of communication for the Maryland Historical Society, home of the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner, in regards to the modern interpretation of the code. She states, that modern custom does not require a hand over the heart, and that she thinks “the bottom line is that you show respect with your demeanor…Whether you put your hand over your heart, hold your hat at shoulder level or waist level, is really in this day and age irrelevant.”

What I find interesting is that both Richardson and Clinton are technically also in violation of line (C) as neither are facing the flag, yet there’s no mention of it by anyone who shares the photo.

My hope for this blog isn’t to change your stance on the President, you’re entitled to your opinion, and I respect that. Although I’m sure there will be some that will be quick to write this off as another attempt by the left-wing media to protect the President. Again, if that’s your opinion, I respect that. My hope is that, at the very least, you won’t take everything you see or read at face value, and instead take the time to do a little research to find the real truth.

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