The Purple Tide

Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom discussion expands with current political climate

Kaycee Hubbard, copy editor

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Over the past year, the topic of patriotism has become extremely prevalent in the United States. For example, standing, sitting or kneeling has become a heated debate on the football field; Colin Kaepernick and a slew of other football players have received stark criticism for choosing to kneel during the national anthem. However, a subject that has remained a continuous area of discussion since the implementation of the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms is whether or not it is acceptable for a student to kneel or sit during its recitation.

On Oct. 2, India Landry, a senior at Windfern High School in Houston, Texas, was suspended for several days for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. While Landry waited for her mother to pick her up from school, Martha Strother, the school principal, threatened to call the police if her mother didn’t show up within a certain amount of time. Strother explained to the student that she would only be allowed back if she stood during the pledge.

While some U.S. citizens do not believe students should have to recite the pledge each morning, the majority of them do. According to Rasmussen Reports, 68 percent of American adults think students should be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school, compared to a mere 25 percent who do not think students should be required to say the pledge.

Many Americans typically regard the standing for the pledge in the classroom as a sign of respect for our flag, country and the veterans who have fought for the United States.  

“I personally believe that you should stand for the Pledge of Allegiance for the purpose of standing for the United States and all those who have fought for us to be free,” junior Cathryn Freret said. “I believe that while students have religious and cultural differences, they should stand for the blessing of freedom we have in this country and for what we believe in.”

Some also think that standing for the pledge is a way to honor the deceased persons of America, as well as those who will create change in the future.

“I feel like standing is a form of respect for America itself, and for the people who have been before you and for the people who are to come,” junior Nyliek Brooks-Allen said. “But if you wish to sit during the pledge, then you have that option too.”

The opposing side of the argument believes injustices are still being enacted in the United State’s legislature. The students that have protested the Pledge of Allegiance recently believe that they are doing it to focus on the trials that many minorities, particularly black Americans, face when it comes to interacting with law enforcement.

“I will never stand and respect a flag that does not respect everybody under it,” senior Meriem Abou-Ghazala said. “The main concept that is being overlooked is police brutality. What you’re standing for is showing solidarity for those of color who have been targeted for decades by police. Look at the actual U.S. flag code of honor and read what is in there. It doesn’t mention anything about kneeling, sitting or standing.”

According to the 2017-2018 Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook for Fairfax County Public Schools, “Students are expected to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and to observe one minute of silence each day, unless the student or his or her parent objects to participation in such exercises. A student’s decision to participate or not to participate should be respected.”

English teacher Nikki Lehman agrees with the FCPS guidelines, which are in line with state law, and thinks that it is a student’s right to choose based on his or her inclinations.

“I do think it’s a personal decision,” Lehman said. “I wouldn’t encourage a student one way or the other.”

The nationwide conversation about kneeling during the national anthem has opened the discussion further about what the pledge means to the American people.

“Over my years of teaching and even as a student, it’s sort of this rote thing that everybody does and I’m not sure you really think about it when you say it,” Lehman said. “The reason for the protesting has kind of gotten muddled. I believe it began as a protest for Black Lives Matter, and now all of a sudden it has been attached against our country, against our military, and I don’t think that’s the intent of it. I strongly admire students who have a strong conviction for these issues.”

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Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom discussion expands with current political climate