“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Our local elementary school (and the school my children attend) has become embroiled in a heated battle over the Pledge of Allegiance and I find myself utterly, completely and surprisingly on the fence.
On the one hand I consider myself a tree-hugging, peace-loving, compulsively-recycling, bleeding-heart liberal. I went door-to-door for Obama in ‘08. I always give money to the Real Change vendors in our neighborhood. The fact that our food waste and recycling each week far outweigh our garbage actually makes me feel a little bit giddy. Us liberals tend to find blatant displays of national pride uncomfortable, unnecessary and just a little bit un-liberal.
On the other hand, I like what I have seen so far of our new principal and I want to support her. I believe that if she feels this is important she must have a good reason (her stated reason is “to provide children access to…the pledge” as required by state law). And, to be completely honest, the idea of my children saying the pledge of allegiance makes me feel a little bit nostalgic.
When I was in school we said the pledge every day without fail, without question and without controversy. It was just something you did. At my high school (a school in which every student was required to take at least two years of Latin) we said the pledge in Latin. I can still recite parts of it by heart some twenty-five years later – “Uni nationi, Deo ducente, Non dividendae, Cum libertate, Iustitiaque omnibus” – and it’s a fond memory, something that bound us together as a school community.
I agree that not everything the pledge states has been achieved (“liberty and justice for all”), not everything it proclaims (“indivisible”) is always true – this controversy has shown that we can, at times, be quite divided – and not everyone in this country believes us to be “one nation, under God.”
And while the vision of the John Stanford International School is, “To create a culturally diverse community of life-long learners who demonstrate advanced skills in communication, international language and technology…” I honestly don’t see how saying the pledge negates this vision as some parents in our community do.
The fact that saying the pledge is voluntary – that is, the pledge will be said in every classroom, however, any student or teacher may remain silent and seated for any reason if they so choose – and that the controversy has sparked such a lively discussion in our community seems a reason to do it. If our vision is “to create a culturally diverse community of….learners who demonstrate advanced skills in communication….” I would say our struggles with the pledge – both internally and with each other – are a good lesson on the path to achieving this vision
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