Pledge of Allegiance: To Stand or not to Stand?

By Za-Asiah James ‘19

“…one nation, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” reads the last few words of the Pledge of Allegiance;  however, it seems that our students have different opinions when it comes to this statement.

With all the controversy following the National Football League (N.F.L) players kneeling during the National Anthem, one of today’s most discussed questions is not about their protest, but about our First Amendment rights and who will stand for the National Anthem and who will not. One of the N.F.L’s former players, Colin Kaepernick, started the reaction that’s got everybody talking. However at schools, the discussion isn’t so much focused on the National Anthem, but more on whether students can be forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and why they do or don’t.

Students all across the United States recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school. According to the New York Times article “Board Votes to Require Recitation of Pledge at Public Schools” on October 2001 reciting the pledge was a state requirement since the Vietnam War, but most schools just ignored it. The 1943 Supreme Court case, West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette, determined that the First Amendment protects a student’s right to free speech and can not require students to recite the Pledge. Modern New York City had the same ruling in 2001, according to firstamendmentcenter.org, after 9/11, The Board of Ed adopted a resolution requiring all schools to post flags and recite the pledge. However, no teachers, or students can be forced to pledge or stand.

As a result of this an overwhelming number of students in this generation don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The magic question is why?

“The Pledge of Allegiance? I don’t really care for it,” said Rivaldo Richardson ‘19. “In class I don’t even hear the announcement to stand for the Pledge and if I did I wouldn’t stand up either. I think the Pledge is unnecessary and I have the right to free speech under the First Amendment to whether I want to say it or not.”

He wasn’t the only student who expressed this opinion. It seems a lot of students don’t stand for the Pledge because it has no significance to them.

“I dislike America, Trump and the Pledge!” answered Lalani Pacific-Jack ‘20.

Hannan Chaudhary ‘21 said, “I personally don’t stand for the pledge, not to show protest, but simply because I have lunch that period and do not hear the pledge, I also feel as if I wouldn’t stand even if I did have class because it’s not something I do very often,  ever since I started high school.”

Nabilah Zaman ‘19, another student who doesn’t stand for the pledge, believes everyone has different forms of respect. She relates her reasoning to the recent controversy with Colin Kaepernick, and states that those who choose to kneel during the anthem, have their own reasons and the reasons are personal to them and them alone.

“The flag represents pride for America, and I simply don’t think it is justifiable to be mad at black people or people of color who refuse to show pride for a country that has only ever made them oppressed. I think the protest worked, clearly considering it managed to get this much media coverage. It angered a lot of people  so now everyone has an idea of how people of color feel everyday in this country. Id consider that pretty successful.” said Nabilah ‘19.

Even some teachers admit that they don’t recite the pledge either. “I’m always standing during class, but no I don’t recite it,” said Ms. Kristina Alvarez, a chemistry teacher with a mixed class setting. “Nobody stands but one student, a sophomore, even if he’s the only one.”

Elysia Richards-Durham, a junior also stated she does stand for the pledge during third Period. “ It’s a sign of respect for our country and the nation. I’m usually the only one but I don’t care because everyone has a choice whether or not they want to and their own reasons why they don’t stand,” said Elysia ‘19.

Rachel Goryachkovskiy ‘18 stated she stands for the pledge because the flag represents freedom and the progress made that isn’t attainable in other parts of the world.

She said, “You stand for the flag to showcase your pride and solidarity not only with your country, but also with your fellow citizens. Standing for the pledge isn’t something that should be disrespected with actions like kneeling.” She added, “That’s an individual’s right to represent their beliefs, but personally, with knowledge of family and friends that have and are serving in our armed forces, it’s imperative to stand to demonstrate unity amongst the diverse people of this wonderful country.”

Even though it is mandatory to recite the Pledge in school daily, many students don’t and will continue not to because they have the choice not to. This large majority of students who don’t stand for the pledge do not represent every student in Midwood, because we are too big a school.

 

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