A Pledge of Pride, Loyalty and Honor
I recited the Pledge of Allegiance every day during my eight years in public school, John Jay Audubon No. 42, Scranton, Pa. Every morning my classmates and I stood up, placed our rights hands over our hearts and recited the words.
In 1959 Miss Aikman made our fifth-grade class memorize a portion of the Preamble to the Constitution, too. As a young student I realized that America, while not perfect, did aspire to be “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1892 Edward Bellamy wrote the pledge because he believed it would “protect [the] immigrants and native-born and the insufficiently patriotic Americans from the ‘virus’ of radicalism and subversion.”
Today Congressional sessions open with the pledge, as do organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus and the Freemasons.
The pledge, modified four times, was last revised in 1954 to include the words “under God.” However, before this, controversy ensued. In 1940, Minersville School District v. Gobities ruled that Jehovah Witness students could not be compelled to speak the pledge. In 1943, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette ruled that public school students could not be compelled to recite the pledge as it violated their First Amendment rights. Others argued that young children could not understand what they were reciting.
Today many school districts have allowed students to refrain from reciting the pledge as a matter of choice, so some students stand to recite, while other students remain seated where they can amuse themselves with texting their friends.
Miss Aikman taught me how to become a citizen. For me, our flag is a cloth of honor, and I recite the pledge with pride, loyalty and honor.
Thank you, Miss Aikman.
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