Should I stand? Pledge of Allegiance Controversy

In schools across the country, every student begins their day repeating the same phrases about the history and strength of the United States of America. Despite this seemingly ideal way of instilling patriotism and the positive aspects of American culture and present day life into the students’ minds, the pledge of allegiance has caused controversy throughout American history, and continues to do so today.

“I just wanted [the pledge of allegiance] once a week so we could do it a little bit more thoughtfully,” states Sabine Furtauer, a robotics and aerospace teacher at DHS, commenting on how the repeated integration of the pledge of allegiance into schools and students across the US has created a void of meaning, replacing it with boredom and questioning.

In order to support the diversity of students in her classes, Furtauer provides an open minded and equally opportune classroom. Her beliefs on the pledge of allegiance are similar to a growing number of students and teachers across the US, and the derivatives of their reasons to sit or stand vary.

Many people believe that standing for the pledge of allegiance shows respect to the entirety of our country, whether it be respect for those who fight for our country, the incomparable opportunities and freedoms that we are given in our country, or those who lead our country.

“Standing for thirty seconds in the morning and looking at the flag has way more meaning of just that. Not only are you honoring the men and women who still serve but the men and women who died in trying to protect us,” says Jr. Hannah Coster, corroborating the fact that standing for the pledge is essential in high schools because it shows respect for those who sacrifice their lives for our country.  

However, one of the foundational conflicts in saying the pledge of allegiance today is with our current leader, President Donald Trump.

“How could I pledge my loyalty to a country that can’t promise equality? The pledge of allegiance talks about ‘liberty and justice for all’, but I feel like there is really no liberty or justice in this country; if there’s truly justice why is there still discrimination?” says So. Ani’ya Richards, underlining the social and political reasons that draw her to sit for the pledge.

President Trump has actively been against those who don’t acknowledge the traditional ways that Americans support their country, whether it’s standing for the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem. This issue has been especially prominent with the act of kneeling during the national anthem, where NFL football player Colin Kaepernick sparked the controversy in order to bring light to frequent and increasing racial injustices in the US, while receiving backlash from President Trump that he is spreading a “terrible message” to those watching.

The controversy thickened as Kaepernick wasn’t drafted into the NFL this year, drawing attention to the legal aspects of his protest: did exercising his first amendment right ultimately lead to his career downfall?

This same issue connects to students today, where the line between first amendment rights and disrespectfulness towards the United States seems to blur.

Some students have commented that certain teachers have been opposed to their stance on the pledge of allegiance, whether it’s by docking their participation grades or threatening to talk with them after class. Students are not legally required to say the pledge of allegiance in most states in the US, with the majority of those schools giving their students the option of whether or not to sit or stand, with the exception being Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Virginia.

Out of 101 students polled from Durango High School, 63 said that they stood for the pledge, and 38 of them did not. This minority still receives encouragement from some teachers to participate, whether it’s because of their personal background or personal political opinions.

“I think that I owe respect to this country and that’s why I want to do the pledge of allegiance,” shares Seydie Coronado, a Spanish teacher at DHS and an immigrant from Costa Rica, on why she encourages students to stand for the pledge due to the bountiful opportunities and freedoms provided to all citizens.

Some teachers follow the foundational law that is required in most all American states, which is that the pledge must be said in public schools.

“I don’t really care if you say it or not, but you have to stand for the pledge,” said science teacher Ty Flom.

Other teachers contrast from Coronado and Flom, choosing to exercise their first amendment rights to bring more meaning to the pledge of allegiance.

“I think it’s important that whenever we make a pledge that we are speaking those words with intentionality and conviction, and if I’m in the middle of doing attendance or getting papers ready for the class, I would be mindlessly saying the pledge,” says AP Psychology and AP US History teacher Leigh Gozigian.

Religious implications in the pledge of allegiance also stimulate backlash and disengagement in reciting it.

The phrase “under God” of the pledge of allegiance wasn’t even implemented until 1954, when President Eisenhower decided that this phrase would unite American citizens against communism during the Cold War. This phrase also appears on the American bill, though receives much less controversy and debate due to the fact that it simply goes unnoticed in our society compared to the pledge, which is recited everyday by every student for eighteen years of their lives.

Another pressing question arises from the “under God” conflict: should certain aspects of our pledge be updated to fit our modern society, just like the debate on certain aspects of our constitution, such as the second amendment right?

Whatever the implications or the main goals of reciting the pledge of allegiance may be, it still receives heavy discussion in today’s society as religion and political stance more prominently influence students actions and ideas. Despite the conflicts found in reciting the pledge of allegiance, it is still a way to show respect and honor towards the entirety of our country, while still proving our unparalleled rights as Americans to exercise the freedom of speech in every aspect of our lives.

Author: El Diablo

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