Leah: The Pledge of Allegiance: Outdated or important?

Leah Ulatowski, Copy Editor

In a country filled with self-proclaimed “free spirits,” one is not surprised to learn that pledging allegiance to the American flag and the republic for which it stands has become yet another “controversial” topic. Many citizens criticize schools that provide students with the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day—apparently, some even equate it to an indoctrination effort. It’s important to remember that we are not asking students to sell their souls to Satan, and partisan politics have nothing to do with the tradition; the pledge simply teaches students about the ideals this nation was built upon and challenges them to live out those standards in their own lives. Additionally, it reminds them to express gratitude to the people who have sacrificed everything for this nation.

It only requires a minute or two out of a student’s day to recite the pledge—a small price to pay for the character that it builds and the respect it demonstrates to those who serve our country. I do not see any harm in asking a student to briefly get off his or her butt and reflect on the freedom of this country, especially when there is a young soldier somewhere taking his or her last breath in order to preserve it.

Additionally, the lines of our pledge challenge our youth to pursue the ideals of “liberty and justice” in their daily lives. In a world where students think it is OK to initiate terror attacks on their own schools and where bullies think it is hilarious to completely break someone to the point of insanity, there is no harm in reminding our youth that all student deserves the freedom to express themselves and pursue happiness.

It is also important for them to realize that we have a legal system devoted to ensuring justice when those liberties are jeopardized by others. When we adopt the mindset of “screw American ideals” and “every man for himself,” we resort to drastic measures out of selfishness and lose our sense of empathy. Let’s not subject our children to hopelessness that arises from downplaying the exceptionality of our nation.

Many opponents of the pledge believe we are teaching children to accept everything that occurs in this country and to never question our leaders; however, there is a huge difference between blindly worshipping one’s country and demonstrating loyalty to it. Nowadays, Americans promote the idea of never being “tied down” to anything; as a result, we have skyrocketing rates of failed marriages, neglected children and irresponsible citizens.

In my opinion, pledging allegiance to this country is similar to accepting a tradeoff. If America continues to champion “liberty and justice for all,” I will take pride in and stand by it; however, I’m allowed to break my contract if this country strays from the criteria cited in the pledge. I believe that by committing to my country, I actually hold it to a higher standard than those who have no sense of citizenship.