Students are headed back to the classrooms throughout Northern
California this month and they likely will start each day with the Pledge of
Allegiance or some other “appropriate patriotic exercises” — a tradition that
goes back generations.
In California, as is the case with many states, classrooms in public schools are required to offer the pledge or a patriotic exercise like singing the National Anthem daily, but students are not required to actually stand up and recite it. Most do, of course, but some students object to the phrase "Under God" and refuse to take part in the daily routine.
The issue has surfaced nationally. Earlier this year, a state lawmaker in Arizona introduced a bill to require students to recite the pledge. Other states, including Oregon and Nebraska, have had discussions on whether to require the pledge to be recited in schools.
For three decades, the pledge didn’t have the phrase “Under God.” But in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pushed for Congress to add the phrase to combat communist threats, leaving Americans with the 31-words we have today:
"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."
We asked the question on Facebook and it started a lively conversation among our Facebook followers and many others.
Doris Gentry led off the responses with this: Definitely - this is America we are the USA and every child should know the Pledge in out, down, up, under and backwards. Time to get it thru our thick heads - this is the United States of America - can I get an Amen?
Kellie Fuller talked about patriotism. She wrote, “I don't understand how being patriotic became a bad thing. I love my country. Doesn't mean I love everything. I can speak out against what I want to see change. I can dissent, march, protest, vote and speak in the streets. AND love my country and feel loyal toward it at the same time.”
Mike Mansuy stole our Patch thunder with his knowledge of the California Education code. He wrote, “I don't know where the notion comes from that schools do not do it any more. The fact is that most schools do recite the Pledge of Allegiance or do some other daily patriotic exercise as it's required by the California Education Code.”
Alex Shantz was one of the dissenters in
this conversation. He wrote, “No. When I
was a high school student I very much resented being force to pledge my
allegiance to a country that lied us into war, spied on us, and overthrew
democratically elected leaders in other countries.
I had always believed America was a country where we were free to express dissenting and oppositional views. Blind patriotism is a dangerous thing to instill within children.”
Art Morris took a more nuance view when he wrote, “ I don't think we should force kids to say it, but I think all students should have the opportunity each day to do it. Along the same lines, I think students should have the opportunity to have a moment to pray each day. It's freedom OF religion, not freed FROM religion.”
can see all the responses on the Napa
Valley Facebook page.
What do you think? Should the Pledge be required? Should we drop “under God”? Tell us in comments.