Youth leads Pledge of Allegiance to open Hurlock meeting

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz Leilah Greene, right, received special recognition for her recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Sept. 12 Hurlock Town Council meeting including her pick from MAyor Joyce Spratt’s basket of candy. Mayor Spratt, second from right) shared with Shareen Camper-Greene, left, and Leah Greene, seated, as well.

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Leilah Greene, right, received special recognition for her recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Sept. 12 Hurlock Town Council meeting including her pick from MAyor Joyce Spratt’s basket of candy. Mayor Spratt, second from right) shared with Shareen Camper-Greene, left, and Leah Greene, seated, as well.


HURLOCK – A 7-year-old took center stage at the Sept. 12 Hurlock Town Council meeting for an unexpected reason. She confidently recited the Pledge of Allegiance in a voice noticeably different from the rest of the attendees.
Hurlock meetings always begin with the Pledge, but this time attendees heard a child’s voice clearly saying the 31 words that symbolize loyalty to the American flag and country.

Those few words are also part of a burgeoning movement by some who are using the Pledge as a protest. They kneel rather than stand during the Pledge. That does not sit well with many Americans who agree with the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs that the Pledge contains “Thirty-one words which affirm the values and freedom that the American flag represents.”

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. A national committee of educators and civic leaders planned a public-school celebration of Columbus Day to center around the flag.

Some controversy remains over who wrote the original version of the Pledge. One candidate was Francis Bellamy, committee chair and magazine writer; another was James Upham who worked for the publishing firm that printed the magazine. “One Nation indivisible” referred to the outcome of the Civil War which ended 27 years previously; and “Liberty and Justice for all” expressed the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.

After several alterations, the Pledge was recognized by Congress in 1942. The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954, when Congress added the words “under God” after “one nation.”

Leilah Greene, the 7-year-old whose voice was acknowledged at the Hurlock meeting with a standing ovation, was the voice of millions who believe in honoring America’s traditions. Councilman Jerry Rhue thanked her for leading the Pledge saying, “That was impressive in this bad time.”

Councilman Earl Murphy said, “Young lady, it inspired me to hear that voice … I’m asking everyone to stand for the pledge. Say it loudly and proudly. Thank you, sweetheart, for doing that. Because there are people out there who have fought to give you that freedom.”

Councilman Russell Murphy, chairman of the Hurlock Beautiful Yard Contest, announced the August winners: 1st place went to Scott and Wendy Adkins; 2nd place winner was Ortiz Cruz; and 3rd place winner was Deborah Camper who attended the meeting to receive her gift card. The contest will continue through October.

Hurlock’s first annual Out of the Darkness Walk is slated for Sept. 18, 2 pm. Funds raised will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) by investing in new research, creating educational programs, advocating for public policy, and supporting survivors of suicide loss. The walk will begin and end at the Train Station on Poplar Street. Food will be available and a Silent Auction is planned.

After Town Attorney Robert Merriken read the resolution the council unanimously voted to approve charter resolution 2016-1 that restores the position of council president: “The council shall elect one of its members as council president. The president shall serve as presiding officer at council meetings in the absence of the mayor.” The resolution must be posted and advertised and will become effective 50 days after the vote. Councilman Charles Cephas will assume the position when it becomes official.

Police Chief Les Hutton reported the month has been “fairly uneventful” including 12 reportable cases 9 of which were closed. A gas leak on Sept. 8 at the 1st Baptist Church on the corner of Poplar Street and Dogwood Road was repaired within an hour with help from the Hurlock Volunteer Fire Co. and the police department.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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