A long-time legislator had a long-time wish fulfilled this weekend.
Representative Dolores Mertz is nearly 82 years old. After serving 22 years in the Iowa House, she’s retiring. On Friday night, Mertz finally aired one of her pet peeves. At the start of every work day, members of the House recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and she asked her colleagues to quit pausing at a certain point in the Pledge.
“It’s one nation under God. It’s not one nation, under God. There is no comma, no hyphen, no period. There is no slash-dash. There’s nothing! It’s just one nation under God,” Mertz said, as some House members laughed.
Mertz laughed herself later during an interview with Radio Iowa. “They’ve done it incorrectly all these years,” Mertz said. “And I’ve always said, ‘Before I get out of here, I am going to make sure they say it correctly.'”
A Baptist minister wrote the original “Pledge of Allegiance” in 1892. Mertz was 26 years old in 1954 when congress voted to add the words “under God” to the Pledge and more than five decades later, she notes no punctuation was added all those years ago.
“You don’t pause in a sentence unless there’s comma or a semi-colon or whatever so that’s always been a phobia with me — even about people who lector in church,” Mertz said Saturday. “If there isn’t a comma or a period, you don’t pause in that sentence. You just read it right on through.”
The grandchildren of a legislator led the House in saying the Pledge on Saturday morning and the kids were coached about saying the Pledge without the pause. “I was very proud of ’em,” Mertz said of the kids.
Now that Mertz has this pet peeve off her chest, has anything else really bugged her about the legislature? “Oh, I’ve got lots to say, but probably not over the radio,” Mertz told Radio Iowa.
Mertz, a Democrat from Ottosen, served five years on the Kossuth County Board of Supervisors before winning a seat in the Iowa House in 1988.