Have you seen the footage of the guy heckling Obama for not saying the pledge of allegiance? You can get a link to it and some really good commentary about it here.
One of the more striking things I learned when I was in Yemen actually came from some Germans (thanks Karl). They were more than a little scared when I told them that it is common to start many things, not just official business with the pledge. Baseball games, social organizations, and in many places school days are started by it. My friends told me that there is no chance of that happening in Germany. One of the after-effects of the second world war is the Germans distrust of nationalist displays. Seen in that light, the pledge does seem rather sinister. It looks even more sinister when you read the background of the pledge and it’s original salute, you can see it at the link above.