I remember so clearly a number of years ago when he came to our elementary school. This young Vietnamese boy had survived the horrors of the Southeast Asian war but still carried the scars on his soul as well as his body. A local church had sponsored his family and him and brought them to the United States.
He seemed most comfortable with the adults in our school and we all accepted him warmly. He was our special “boat person” and emerged as one of the most precious flowers in our school garden. We enrolled him in our ESL (English as a second language) class, and as he became more confident and proficient we mainstreamed him into regular classes.
Now it was time for our springtime Awards Ceremony and I asked him if he would be willing to lead our school in the Pledge of Allegiance before the activities began. At first he was hesitant to stand up in front of 600 kids, all the staff and a room full of the children’s family members. Then he agreed and he did a beautiful job. Each word was pronounced perfectly and with honest feeling. Even the children who had droned these words toward the wall their entire school careers knew this was something special:
“… one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all … Amen.”
Smiles turned to quiet chuckles as the entire room of observers began to realize the unusual ending. He just shrugged his shoulders and said into the microphone, “Well, it seems like a prayer to me …”
Stan E. Hughes