In my first period class, I am one of a handful of students who regularly stands up and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. On some days, I do so even though my teacher continues lecturing right through InfoFlow. With the relentless stream of information about the structure of atoms going in one ear and straight out the other, it's often difficult to concentrate on either chemistry or patriotism: "I pledge allegiance...electrons...flag...molecule...liberty...bond...all." What a riot.
But for me, saying the pledge is as natural as breathing. It is a way to pay respect to a country that has done so much for my family and me; it is a way to show how lucky I am to be a citizen of the United States.
I understand that many people feel there are better ways to show love for a country than repeating an anthem in unison. Still others find the words "under God" in the verse offensive as an unconstitutional endorsement of monotheism. These are perfectly valid concerns. In fact, it's why the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning is voluntary. What bothers me is when I see kids drooling on their desks, fast asleep or gabbing loudly about what Lucy did with Pete last weekend at a time that is specifically reserved for reciting the pledge.
In general, I agree that standing and pledging cannot be equated with patriotism. Love for a country goes much deeper than just these 31 words. But even if we disagree with our government's practices and policies, we can recognize the significance of the basic principle of one united nation fighting for liberty and justice for all. It's important to remember, after all, that we are not pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth. We are pledging to our country, our fellow countrymen and women and the values that America fights so hard to uphold. It's a show of respect.
What I find particularly interesting is that after we graduate from high school and college, the pledge is forgotten. My parents have never learned the pledge and many of their colleagues don't even remember the words. But this is immaterial - what matters is that these adults stay quiet when we have moments of silence as a nation and stand when the national anthem is sung at baseball games.
As such, it pains me to see that for the most part, kids who do not stand for the pledge do so less because of conviction and more because of straight-up laziness. I know it's early, but I think we can muster the energy to stand up and stay quiet for these 20 or so seconds. If you passionately believe that the Pledge of Allegiance is immoral, fine. We respect your rights and beliefs. But please, be silent for the rest of us.
Deepa Chellappa. The high point of Deepa's life thus far occurred when she waved to Mickey Mouse at a Disney World parade and he blew her a kiss in return. Needless to say, she hates Minnie with a passion. In her free time, Deepa can be found ... More »