A few weeks ago, the Students for Soldiers Club (SSC), started by juniors Ryan Noone and Tim Bailey, sent out a survey asking both students and teachers questions regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. The survey showed that out of the 86 students who responded, about 45% of them rarely ever rise for the Pledge. This is simply proof of something that we all have been aware of for a long time. We just don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance as often as we did back before high school, but why?
One attractive explanation for this is that as adolescents, we are becoming more wary of societal indoctrination and brainwashing, and this is certainly one aspect of the issue.
“You shouldn’t have to pledge your allegiance to your country because if it does something you disagree with, you should be allowed to separate yourself from that,” said junior Miriam Cubstead. “You shouldn’t have to pledge your allegiance to a country every single day.”
Another possible reason for apathy about the Pledge of Allegiance is that among students who were not born in America, there is no incentive to show patriotism.
“In middle school when I first came to the U.S. from Japan, I thought it was really weird that I had to stand up and pledge my allegiance even though I wasn’t an American,” said junior Nayun Eom. “It kind of felt like I had to do it.”
One line of the Pledge seems to upset many students, the line that reads “One nation under God…”. To the many atheist, agnostic, or non-monotheistic people of the school, this line represents an unnecessary and somewhat unconstitutional addition. “Your country shouldn’t be your religion,” said Miriam.
But despite these grievances, many students still proudly rise during the Pledge.
“No matter where you’re from or whatever creed or color or class you are, if you live here then you’re in America. The Pledge is just a good way to start the day, but it’s not really my call whether you decide to stand or not,” said junior Will Findley.
However, it is the belief of the SSC that neither moral code nor a our level of patriotism is the root cause of why many students no longer stand for the Pledge. They believe that the problem stems from the fact that it is placed at the end of class. According to them, there are multiple reasons why the Pledge’s current placement causes problems, one of which being that it pressures teachers to talk through it in order to finish their lesson. In fact, the survey they sent out shows that out of the ten teachers who took it, seven of them admitted to having taught through the Pledge. In addition to this, the Pledge and the morning announcements now act as a sort of indicator for students of when class is over, leading many of them to simply begin packing up their things rather than rising. And even for those who are not anxious to leave class, they may still feel pressured to finish writing down notes or page numbers for homework.
“I completely understand that some people don’t want to stand for the Pledge, and that’s ok. But in many cases, it’s not ‘cause they don’t want to. It’s because they want to get to their next class quickly or write down their last note,” said Ryan. He believes that placing the Pledge and the announcements at the beginning of class will “make the people who would like to stand not feel pressured by their teachers who are still teaching or worried about getting to their next class.”
In their survey, it was shown that roughly 70% of students and 90% of teachers agree with their proposal.
“If people don’t want to stand for the Pledge, that’s their choice and I respect that. But I’m sure I’m not the only person in this school that would stand for the Pledge. I just think we should make it more accessible,” said Mitchell Pereira, a member of the SSC.