Pledge of Allegiance Point-Counterpoint


Illustration by Nora Talbott

Isaac Snow and Matt Roman

Refrain from Pledging

“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.” Thirty-one words we all know, 31 words we are forced to memorize in school from an early age. But should every kid hear those words every day of their childhood? Should we be saying and standing for the Pledge of Allegiance every day in schools? The answer is no, and what’s more, it should cease to exist at all.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a lie. Two phrases in specific come to mind: “one nation, under God” and “with liberty and justice for all.”

The original version of the Pledge didn’t include the words “under God.” The phrase was added in 1954, under the Eisenhower administration. When signing the bill to reword the Pledge, President Eisenhower said, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty…In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

By saying this, Eisenhower told the American people we should believe America was built from our loyalty to God and religion. That’s simply not true. America was neither built by God nor by loyalty to religion. America was built through our ancestor’s hard work and perseverance. America was built by immigrants from all over the world coming to actualize the American Dream and succeed through hard work. America was built with faith in freedom, that people should be able to believe and act on what they want and not be persecuted for it.

Alas, problems remain. Even though our country’s foundation was built on the backs of immigrants, we cannot find a way to coexist peacefully. There is certainly not “liberty and justice for all.” Many places around the country deny service to the LGBTQ+ community. There is blatant racial injustice, evident in the innumerable murders of unarmed African-American men. Women still earn just 79 cents for every dollar men make.

Some might say calling for the Pledge to be eliminated makes me unpatriotic or means I don’t love my country. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. I love that I have the freedom to make this argument. I love that we’re allowed to disagree. I love that we have the power to make our own decisions. But I also realize the reality of America, one clouded with all kinds of issues, and as long as these issues persist and we do not truly have “liberty and justice for all,” we cannot continue to feed children an obvious lie.

Students should stand

Every day in second period during the morning announcements, the host asks everyone to please stand for the pledge. In almost every second period, almost no one follows the instructions. Because this is America and we have freedom of speech, students are not required to stand or salute the flag, which was made official in the 1943 West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette Supreme Court case. However, the fact that no one stands in any class is disappointing. There are plenty of people in the military who worked hard to defend our country, and not standing for the flag is disrespectful to them. It’s not even that the people are protesting injustice, like Colin Kaepernick did in August of 2016. That was a respectable reason for not standing, as he was standing up for what he believed in. However, at WJ, it’s unlikely very many students at WJ are doing that. People are just being lazy and don’t want to stand because they’re too busy looking at their phones or doing other things, and can’t be bothered to take 15 seconds to respect our country.

In middle school and elementary school, everyone stood. Why does no one stand in high school? Some people are used to standing after doing so every year in the past, but when they stand up at WJ they see all the eyes go to them. This will pressure a lot of kids to sit  back down in an attempt to avoid attention. In my five different second periods during my time at WJ, probably a combined eight kids have stood. On September 11, a day where all Americans should be united under the flag, not a single kid stood in my period. I’m not saying everyone should stand, but the serious lack of patriotism at this school is disappointing and a shame for America, especially on important days such as 9/11, where Americans should show respect for their country on a day that changed their country forever.

The Pledge of Allegiance is played daily to remind kids of the freedoms that they’re enjoying while living in America. And while there are still issues in America, the Pledge of Allegiance reminds kids before a day at school that they are the future of America and must work hard to improve issues in the country. It can remind students of the importance of hard work and what it can lead to because of the freedoms of America. Taking the pledge out would not improve the life of students in any way. If students wish to remain seated or not acknowledge the pledge, that’s fine. America is a free country, which is just one more reason people should stand for the pledge.