Why I Don’t Stand For the Pledge


Rachel Henry, Editor-in-Chief

It’s 7:25am and all the students in  first period are getting settled into their seats. The various conversations in the classroom are interrupted with the loud sound of the bell. A handful of students in the class stand facing the red, white and blue flag, place their right hands over their chests and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, a routine that has been drilled into the minds of American students since at least the 1950s.

“I Pledge Allegiance…,” says the static voice over the intercom some recite along in monotone voices. Their voices stick out in the class, contrasting the dead silence of the students who respectfully stand, facing the flag, but do not repeat the pledge. “To the flag,” the voice continues as I look around and notice that most students aren’t standing. “Of the United States of America,” and now, the teacher is getting irritated at all the students who are sitting and ignoring the pledge.

“Phones should be out of sight, and everyone should be standing for the pledge,” says the teacher. She signals the seated students to rise and recite the pledge.

The same handful are standing, and the rest of the kids in the room continue to disregard the teacher’s request to stand.

As the pledge wraps up, the few students who stood sit down, while the ones who idly sat through the pledge, are scolded, by both the teacher and other students.

“If you don’t stand for the pledge, you aren’t supporting our troops,” says an agitated student.

For many people, the pledge is a time to pay respect to the soldiers who served for our country, or as an honorific to give support to people who fought for American rights.But for others, like myself, not standing for the pledge is actually standing for something more significant. While some may be sitting apathetically, for me, it’s form of protest.

Students are opposed to standing and reciting the pledge for several different reasons. Some students dislike current events occurring in the United States such as racism, homophobia, and sexism, and not standing for the pledge as a way to silently protest. As students, acceptable forms of protest are limited. But, being silent is both an acceptable and a powerful form of protest. It’s both a choice and an effective way to make the statement that I don’t support the words in the pledge.

To me, the pledge lies when it says things such as “With Liberty and Justice for all,” because I don’t feel as if America is abiding by this phrase that is forced into our minds every morning.

I am one of these students.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, liberty is defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.”

I feel as if millions of people in America are oppressed in their own ways. There are instances where some people can’t express their gender without being criticized. There are people who practice a certain religion and are criticized for that as well.

Students should be allowed to boycott the pledge if the values they believe in aren’t represented by the pledge. If certain students feel like standing for the pledge is important to them, and it makes them feel connected to their country in some way, I support that fully. But, if a student doesn’t feel the same way, it is their American right to respectfully ignore the Pledge of Allegiance.