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Brouhaha erupts in Nevada County over pledge of allegiance

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

Two community leaders faced off recently over how to emphasize the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance.

On May 8, the Nevada County Republicans unanimously passed a resolution that expressed indignation over North San Juan Fire Protection District’s decision to dispense with the Pledge of Allegiance for all but two of its board meetings.

“The Nevada County Republican Party believes that elected officials should be an example to the public by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance properly, with enthusiasm and respect at all public meetings,” the resolution read.

The North San Juan fire board’s president, Ed Beckenbach, said patriotism comes in many forms, a principle the Republican Party is sure to agree with.

“I don’t think you can add emphasis to the pledge of allegiance by not saying it at 10 of 12 meetings in a given year.”
— Rich Ullery

“I don’t have a problem with the philosophy (of the Nevada County Republicans), but their actions are a little heavy-handed,” he said. “We on the Ridge are as patriotic as anyone, anywhere.”

Rich Ullery, president of the Nevada County Republicans, said, “I don’t think you can add emphasis to the Pledge of Allegiance by not saying it at 10 of 12 meetings in a given year. This is the exact opposite way to add emphasis to the pledge.”

Beckenbach originally announced his intention to dispense with the pledge at 10 of the 12 regular board meetings at the Feb. 26 meeting. He said Tuesday he wanted to “find a way to emphasize the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance,” and decided experimenting with the amount of times it was said during the year was worthwhile.

The idea was to enhance the value of the pledge by making its reciting into more of a special occasion, he said.

But Beckenbach said North San Juan Fire just “missed the pledge too much” and the directors have gone back to saying it before each meeting begins.

“My intent was to make it special by only saying it around Memorial Day and Veterans Day, although in retrospect, I probably should have reserved another one for the Fourth of July,” he said.

Beckenbach said he did not forgo the experiment due to pressure from the Nevada County Republicans and said the “brouhaha could have been avoided by a phone call.”

Ullery said he did call Beckenbach, but was so “taken aback” by the policy that he felt a resolution and press release were in order.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.

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