The Pledge of Allegiance

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I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the pledge of allegiance.  I think this NPR article offers some interesting insight into the origins of many parts of the pledge. I have worked (and attended) schools that required it and schools that didn’t, as well as schools where students recite it faithfully and schools where students were reluctant to even stand.  What meaning did it hold for students and staff?  Was it an empty set of motions or an honest pledge of devotion?

What do you think?  Should kids be required to say the pledge at school?

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7 Responses to “The Pledge of Allegiance”

  1. Becky Says:

    I am wary of it as well. It has been something that made me uneasy as we were required to say it in high school but I was not a citizen at the time. I didn’t really feel like the words meant anything to me so I just said them and waited until it was over and sat down. I wonder if it’s like that for American children as well. I think in theory it is nice to say something at the beginning of the day for your country and maybe is a good way to get in the mindset of school but I’m not sure it actually does serve that purpose if everyone is just saying it for the sake of saying it and not thinking about the meaning.

    I’m not really sure what could be done instead but I don’t think kids should be required to say it. I think if they want to they should, but if they don’t I don’t think it should be held against them.

    • Beth Says:

      Thanks for the link to this explanation of the Pledge of Allegiance. I found it hard to swallow when I was in High School (early 70’s.) I would sit during it as a protest against the War in Vietnam.

  2. Marita Says:

    I like the pledge of allegiance, although I have mixed feelings about requiring it. First off I think that if it is going to be said every one present should be required to stand as a sign of respect. Requiring students to recite is going a little far for me, but I consider standing during it an act of basic decency.

    Did you know that the “under God” wasn’t added to the pledge until well into the twentieth century? I do think we’d be better off without that. Although it’s hard to remove that sort of think once it’s added and I’m not holding my breath, I am a strong proponent of the separation of church and state. All religious groups need protecting, and privileging one is the first step towards putting all others in jeopardy.

    • Whitney Nielsen Says:

      Most schools I have been at require students to stand and suggest that they put their hands on their hearts and say the pledge. I don’t know if I’d call it “decency”– I think “accepted etiquette” is more in line with how I feel about it. I stand and require that my students stand if that’s the rule at the school. If students ask why I do not say the pledge, I will discuss it with them, but I don’t make a big deal about it either way.

  3. Becca Says:

    I just recited it because that’s what we do. We started saying it in kindergarten, and what in the world do you know about allegiance and indivisibility then? It was just part of the morning announcement set, and in fourth grade we got to go put the flag up, but really … it didn’t mean anything to me.

    I don’t think you should require it. Someone might say it over the announcements, and kids might stand up so they don’t feel left out, but it’s not like you can force a kid to pledge something.

    • Whitney Nielsen Says:

      Do you think the words have any particular meaning, or the act of doing/saying something together on a regular basis? I think that’s what kids (and adults?) respond to more.

  4. Dave Says:

    I think it would have a lot more meaning if there was more of an effort made to have the kids think about its meaning. As it is, though, it IS just a series of words in a row, and I think it’s perceived as such. I think just having a discussion with kids about what they think it means would make a huge difference.

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