Updated Jan 23, 2021 7:17 PM EST
When Georgia fire captain Andrea Hall delivered the Pledge of Allegiance on, few people knew she would also do it in sign language. She wanted it to be a surprise.
Hall made two pledges on inauguration Day: One to the flag, and the other to a community close to home.
Hall said, “I really just wanted to pay homage to the deaf and hard of hearing community. The words of the pledge are significant not just for us, but for them as well.”
For the first ever African American female fire captain in Fulton County, Georgia, it’s personal. Her late father was deaf.
Hall said that when she uses sign language, her words take on a special feeling. “It’s a very intimate,” Hall said. “It’s just like if I spoke another language, like Spanish or French, when you have a native language that you speak. It’s like comfort food, you know. It’s like mashed potatoes and gravy.”
Hall said she decided “very early on” to deliver her Pledge of Allegiance in sign language. “You’re between Lady Gaga and J. Lo. I mean, come on, that’s it. And I have like my little 15 seconds of something.” Hall said, “Those are too hard to be sandwiched between, so I need to put some meat between there, you know?”
At a time of such division — especially at a place like the Capitol, which is recovering from the January 6 insurrection — perhaps the words of the pledge say it all.
“It was written for little children who were immigrants,” Hall said. “And in some way, we’re all immigrants. You know, we’re a mishmash of people from all over. And I think that’s the significance of it. It’s a way to unify all of us by speaking those thirty one words.”
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