By Helee Shukla
While many Americans can recite the pledge of allegiance word-for-word, how many know what the pledge was designated to convey, or more particularly, who it was meant for? The origin of the pledge dates back to 1892, and unexpectedly, was written by a socialist. Francis Bellamy emerged as a leader against the xenophobia with which new migrants were met during a period of high-tide immigration. Amid this socio-political environment, Bellamy foresaw that a patriotic poem would introduce the idea of unifying the country.
The controversy that exists today on whether to stand or not to stand did not gradually develop from nothing; it was the direct result of a slight, yet significant alteration made to the pledge. The phrase “under God” was added to what was meant to be a secular piece. Now, many take a stance on if the pledge truly is for sole patriotism or something beyond.
Source by Anna Detke
Students take time out of every morning to say the pledge with their entire class.
Both the pledge and the national anthem were written to represent freedom in America. For decades, individuals have expressed their dissent regarding these expressions, but the act of not standing for them was popularized when NFL player Colin Kaepernick did not stand for the national anthem.
Many of those who do not stand for the pledge do so out of skepticism for what the pledge entails, and why it has been instilled in Americans at a young age.
“Now, many take a stance on if the pledge truly is for sole patriotism or something beyond...”
“We can look at its very title. ‘Allegiance’ is a very strong term that is synonymous with unquestioning support. In my opinion, that’s a big ask from five-year-olds and further reinforces the idea that the pledge is not about support and respect, but is about instilling unquestioning loyalty in American youth since before they can even read,” said junior Anna Detke.
“I don't think the flag itself is meaningless, I just think standing for the pledge has become meaningless for me because it’s something I’ve been told to do since a very young age without real purpose or intent. I’ve never felt any sort of patriotism or national pride when pledging allegiance, so once I realized I wasn’t pledging with intent, I stopped,” said junior Ishita Bansal.
Hypocrisy is often associated with the meaning of the pledge, as people doubt whether what is said to be true is also put into action.
“I will not stand for the pledge until liberty and justice is actually granted for all and will continue to stay seated until that day,” said senior Rachel Cantave.
When taking a look at the other side of the controversy, it’s clear that one cannot view the act of standing up or not as simply black or white; there are multiple factors that play into determining one’s stance.
Some people that stand do so out of honor of those that made it possible for the country to be granted such rights.
“I stand for the pledge for a number of reasons, the main one being that most of my family has been in the military, and they fought for the right for us to live free. Standing and saying the pledge for 30 seconds is nothing compared to the millions of lives lost in battle,” said sophomore Eddie Dean.
Several of those do so to address how far the nation has come in giving freedom to its people.
“I stand for the pledge because it represents the hard past we faced to become the strong country we are today. Though I may not agree with every single decision this country makes and am not deeming it perfect, I’m still an American citizen that enjoys many rights that I won’t get in other countries. My parents immigrated here for opportunities and regardless of the hardship they faced, they were able to make the so-called ‘American dream,’” said senior Sneha George.
“As a dignified person who has many opportunities for higher education, I believe that standing up is simply acknowledgement of these rights, and while yes we have many problems too, we can fix them. The avenues for improvement are there, as well as for change. To stand up for that moment is recognition of our privileges and to acknowledge the privilege to speak our mind. You have the right to disagree, even violently, and that’s a privilege,” said orchestra teacher Ms. Tomkiw.
What the pledge of allegiance constitutes has been transformed throughout history and is still changing today. It is no longer universal that it is a pledge of patriotism. Rather, it is universal that it is a pledge of controversy.