Twelve Seconds

The Journalism 1 students were tasked with writing a 1st amendment position paper. This is the paper junior David Robinson wrote about the Pledge of Allegiance.

GUEST POST: DAVID ROBINSON

“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.” This simple and everyday phrase should not be something alien or foreign to any American; every single American citizen should be able to recognize this thirty-one word statement as the same thirty-one statement they used every day in their homeroom class every morning before the day began. All Americans should be able to recognize this as the United States of America’s Pledge of Allegiance.

However, the Pledge, the circumstances in which it is recited and the Pledge’s actual contents are being massively debated today. The opponents in this debate are the side that believes that the Pledge is a firm, solemn part of American culture that should not be brushed aside and the side that believes the Pledge is an unnecessary, unfair and offensive phrase that should not be required to be recited in American public schools. The following question rises from this debate; should all American public schools require students every morning to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before they begin their daily activities or tasks? This persuasive essay will attempt to shed light on this controversial subject.

As previously stated before, there are two sides to this argument; the first, and as I have easily determined, the currently most popular, is the argument that standing up every morning before class starts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance should be a national law. The reasons for believing in this side of the story are plentiful. First, religious beliefs definitely could be a factor in siding with this side of the story because the phrase “one nation under God” is a part of the Pledge and some people then interpret reciting this phrase as a statement of their religious beliefs and thankfulness to be in a country protected by God. Other reasons could be that the person reciting the Pledge has family or friends who served in the military, are serving in the military, or died serving in the military; and they feel that standing up and reciting the Pledge every morning is a matter of respect for those in the military. There are also those in the United States that simply believe standing up during the Pledge is showing everyone around you that you are proud to be in this nation and to be living under its freedoms, opportunities, liberties and rights. It is possible for someone who is supportive of this argument to believe in standing up during the Pledge for all of these reasons or just for one or two; either way, these are the arguments that Americans use when they try to defend standing up during the Pledge of Allegiance.

There is a polar opposite to every single last belief in the world; and the polar opposite of the supporting position in this debate, are the American citizens who believe standing up and reciting the Pledge every morning should be voluntary or simply not done at all. People who condone this side of the argument defend it with many interesting points, which will be addressed now.

Some Americans believe that forcing students to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning is butting heads with the First Amendment Freedom of Religion because the Pledge does force kids to stand up and say that they believe in one nation under God, regardless of whether they believe in God or not; which could be interpreted as religiously offensive.

Others who are for this position might also bring up the point that schools forcing kids to recite the Pledge every morning is dictating a person’s political opinions of this country by making every single last student in the country stand up and say they are proud to be in this country; regardless of whether they are or not.

Furthermore, there are also people who simply argue that saying the Pledge of Allegiance is a waste of valuable class time and is an inane, repetitive action that students should not be forced to enact. These are the arguments that those believing in the opposing side of the Pledge often use.

Both sides of the argument have been described and presented to you, the reader and it is now time for you to indulge in my opinion on this subject matter that I am very passionate about. Let me just start out by saying that I have personally timed on my iPhone’s clock app how long it takes for a person to say the Pledge of Allegiance at an average pace; the time was clocked at approximately twelve seconds.

This is what America has come to these days; we are debating and arguing for countless amounts of time on whether it should be required to stand up for less than a quarter-minute. Now that that fact has been gotten out of the way, I’d like to personally explain why I believe that every single last American public school student should stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning;

Despite what others may lead you to believe, the Pledge of Allegiance is not just some inane or ludicrous phrase we say every day just for the fun of it. No, I believe in saying the Pledge every morning before I start second period because to me, saying the Pledge is equivalent to me subconsciously telling God, the people around me, and those who have served or are serving in our country, that I am thankful to be here and am thankful for the countless sacrifices so many American men and women have made for my freedoms today. Sitting down during the pledge and refusing to recite it, is in my opinion, an outrageously disrespectful act of arrogance that is the equivalent of giving a veteran or soldier the middle finger.

Let me ask you two questions; if a veteran or soldier was sitting in your classroom and the announcement came on to recite the Pledge, would you still feel comfortable sitting down in front of them? Would you be comfortable walking up to a soldier/veteran on the street, spitting in his face and telling him/her that you don’t care what he/she is doing/did do for your country? I sincerely hope your answer was “no” to both, due to how extremely disrespectful it would be to answer “yes”.

Look at all those war movies and stories like Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers; think about the graphic, horrific atmospheres of war that soldiers and veterans have/had to face. Now, imagine going through all of that and coming home to people who in return for your service for them, don’t even want to stand up for twelve seconds and say that Pledge that your friend died in combat for. If that doesn’t put you in the shoes of the soldiers, I don’t know what does.

Many people love to argue that you should sit down and refuse to say the Pledge because it is an “exercise of your rights and freedoms”. I’d like to counter this with a quote of my own, “Just because something is a right, doesn’t mean you should still do it.” If you want to get technical about freedoms; I have the freedom to commit a crime, do drugs, bully someone, shout “bomb” on an airplane, or pull a fire alarm when there isn’t a fire. These are all freedoms; but does that mean I should actually do any of them? Again, I sincerely hope your answer is “no”. You have the freedom to basically do whatever you want in this country; but you do not hold the right to then turn around and choose the consequences of your actions. This is all relevant to the Pledge of Allegiance; just because you have a right to sit down during the Pledge and not say it, doesn’t mean you should still do it.

The most glorious and patriotic photo in American history is, in my opinion, the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima by Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, Michael Strank, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley atop Mount Suribachi. I think of that photograph every single morning when I place my hand over my heart and recite that same thirty-one word Pledge. I think of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and the countless others who throughout American history, established these amazing freedoms in this beautiful country I live in. I think of the beautiful life I have been given by God, the American air I breathe, and the opportunities that surround me and my family and friends in this country that I love. I lastly think about the countless men and women who have risked their lives for my freedom to prosper without oppression or tyranny throughout my entire life. It’s extremely jarring for me to say the least, when I am captivated in these thoughts, and turn my head to find someone sitting down playing on their phone and not even looking up at this flag that my great uncle died in Vietnam for. Public schools should make it a national law for all students to stand and recite the Pledge every morning, because not doing so is extremely disrespectful and is incredibly arrogant. If you are not willing to take twelve seconds out of your day to say I’m thankful to be in this country; than what I am assuming is you don’t want to be here. And if that is the case, I’d like to recommend all students who disagree with this law to take a visit to Pyongyang and see what happens when you don’t pledge allegiance to Kim Jong-un every morning….

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