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Where does your allegiance lie?

Pledge honors American values, celebrates history

The stars and stripes deserve our respect. The people who the flag represents deserve our respect. The sacrifices the flag represents deserve our respect. The lives lost, the blood spilled and the tears shed by family and loved ones; they all deserve our respect.

That respect is pitifully offered once a week in the halls of RBHS, in a manner of tedium and routine. If we, as American citizens, really value our freedom, why don’t we prove it?

Several people carry misconceptions and animosities against the Pledge of Allegiance. Some call it blind obedience. Some claim they are forced to pledge their allegiance to a country that they disagree with, especially because of what they see as a lack of “liberty and justice” that is offered to citizens.

Some consider the flag to be a simple piece of fabric, and pledging allegiance to that is immature. These misconceptions, however, are completely incorrect.

The pledge itself does not spark blind or forced obedience. The 1943 Supreme Court Case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette states that the Pledge of Allegiance cannot be forced upon any student, nor can a student be punished for refusing to say it.

Some argue it is nonsensical that students should pledge to a country that they disagree with. But that same country provides rights and liberties that many people are not privileged enough to receive. When students reject the option of saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the First Amendment, an iconic piece of legislation that protects its citizens, protects that action. The “liberty and justice for all,” offered by the United States to all of its citizens, protects their actions.

Although the enforcement of liberty and justice may be imperfect, the United States is one of the few countries in the world that enforces this legislation. Although some may disagree with the country’s leadership, they fail to recognize that they live in a place where it is acceptable to voice their disapproval; a right represented by the flag, and by the pledge.

There is no emotional connection to pieces of fabric. But, the red, white and blue stars and stripes are far more than just pieces of cloth. In the 19th century, it represented opportunity and hope for immigrants. In the 1940s, when the country was entrenched in war, the flag represented optimism and success for some, but incomprehensible sorrow for others. In times of unspeakable tragedy, like Sept. 11, 2001, the flag represented unity and promise for the millions of citizens who lived in fear.

It is understandable that some feel no emotional connection to the flag. But for many others, that flag represents hope and opportunity, or a tragic sorrow and heartbreak, and sparks a billow of emotion. Even if some do not feel connected to the flag, people should respect and honor those who do.

Despite the arguments hurled at the flag and the pledge, both represent much more than a routine.
The pledge is a nameplate, a badge American citizens should proudly wear with honor. Because of its importance and value, not only should the Pledge of Allegiance be said in schools, it should be said every single day.

At its core, the Pledge of Allegiance is a celebration and a reminder of the freedoms, rights, liberties and protection that we, as American citizens, are given, and that many other global citizens do not have. It is too valuable to only tediously repeat once a week. Instead, this powerful statement of freedom and independence should be passionately spoken every day.

By Ji-Ho Lee

Pledge honors ignorant patriotism, forgets inequality

The Pledge of Allegiance has come a long way from its roots. The first version, created by a baptist minister named Francis Bellamy in 1892, read “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The words under God were added in 1954 by President Eisenhower as a direct opposition to the atheist communist power.

Now, more than 50 years later, children across the nation are forced to stand up, put their hand over their hearts and pledge their allegiance to the United States of America. While this daily or weekly routine may seem like a gesture of respect, it’s really just another meaningless facade of false sentiment on the government’s part.

America, the self-proclaimed melting pot, distinctly utilizes the word God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only does this violate the First Amendment of the Constitution, which clearly protects against the establishment of religion in government, but it also alienates those who don’t believe in one higher power or God. Groups such as Jehovah’s witnesses are prohibited from promising their devotion to anything other than God while religions such as Hinduism believe in multiple gods. The pledge outright excludes them while making the generalization that all Yankees believe in God.

Mandatory allegiance to the United States also infringes on freedom of speech. Sure, the 1943 Supreme Court case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette may have stated that the Pledge of Allegiance cannot be required of citizens, but that doesn’t stop teachers from outright shaming those who choose not to participate.

In addition, the Pledge of Allegiance uses the phrase “liberty and justice for all” and unfortunately, the United States has a long way until these rights are available for everyone.

The choice to say the pledge doesn’t define a patriot. What truly makes an American citizen is somebody who follows the laws in turn for the rights and freedoms that America so iconically allots. Abolishing the pledge in schools will serve to stop children from being brainwashed into thinking that the 50 states deserve their allegiance no matter what.

It’s a common belief that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a necessary way to promote pride for America and respect for our troops in school children. However, making six-year-old children recite a chant day after day before they even can comprehend the words won’t advance loyalty. If the American government really wants to honor the troops, then maybe they should take real action.

Furthermore, respect for this nation shouldn’t be learned, it should be earned. Reverence should come out of something more genuine, such as the advancement of civil rights. Exactly how will taking off your hat show respect to America? It seems like all that it will do is expose your hat hair and make your head cold.

The Pledge of Allegiance is simply a collection of words that have lost their meaning through years and years of involuntary recitation. People don’t actually think about their privileges during the pledge. Instead their minds wonder about the mundane tasks of the day and how they are looking forward to sitting down.

The Pledge of Allegiance is no more than a ritual blindly praised by those who think patriotism is hosting a family barbecue on the 4th of July. Not only does the pledge disregard the First Amendment, but it also emanates fake patriotism. Citizens celebrate their freedoms every day by obeying the laws and contributing to their community. Saying the pledge is simply irrelevant.

By Grace Dorsey

Art by Stephanie Kang

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