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Pledge participation causes controversy

The pledge is under scrutiny as patriotism is examined

Lexi Shoup

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With recent controversy surrounding players kneeling during the National Anthem before NFL games, the recitation of patriotic statements has been in question.

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, knelt during the National Anthem during the NFL preseason this year.

After a photo of him kneeling was tweeted, he gained immense media attention for his protest.  Many claimed his protest was unpatriotic and disrespectful.

Junior Ilana Nazari thinks the opposite. “I don’t think what he did was wrong. I think he was well within his right,” She said.

Defending his decision to kneel, Kaepernick said, “When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

The Pledge of Allegiance plays on the New Trier loudspeaker each morning during the daily announcements.

Nazari said that while the pledge is being recited over the loudspeaker, her advisery, “[doesn’t] listen. We don’t get quiet. we just keep talking. But our adviser stops to listen.”

This varies from how the pledge was handled in earlier years. “Freshman year, my adviser made us stand up even if we didn’t say it. We had to stand and be quiet,” Nazari said.

Junior Kara Struckman added, “I used to say it more when I was in middle school, but I don’t think it measures my opinions. I’m still patriotic.”

The deterrence in pledge recitation could be due to a variety of factors, including laziness, or a question of what the pledge represents.

Nazari said, “I don’t say the pledge and I haven’t for years. Namely because it doesn’t prove anything. I’m pledging my allegiance to the flag, but what about that flag? What does that flag represent? I’m not particularly patriotic anyway, so saying the pledge has never been a big deal for me.”

Senior Caroline Kelly has always stood up to recite the pledge. “I know there has been controversy about Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem, and I’m fine with that. I think saying the pledge is a way to bring Americans together, pledging an allegiance to our Nation,” She said.

Reciting the Pledge is not required in the state of Illinois, according to First Amendment Center. Illinois law says, “The Pledge of Allegiance shall be recited each school day by pupils in elementary and secondary educational institutions supported or maintained in whole or in part by public funds.”

However, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that since students have the option to opt out, this does not violate their First Amendment rights.

This means that whether or not students actually stand up and recite the pledge is completely up to the individual, but since New Trier is a public school, the pledge will continue to play on morning announcements.

The Pledge’s purpose is said to instill a state of Patriotism into students each morning. Some people though, question the Pledge’s inclusion of the words “under God.”

Junior Nadia James said, “I used to say the Pledge during advisery, but I never said ‘under God’. I’m not a super religious person and I don’t really understand why they would include that. I’m sure there are people like me that agree. Not everyone believes in the same God or even a God at all.”

According to Business Insider, “under God” was added to the Pledge in 1954 when President Eisenhower urged Congress to pass legislation to include the phrase.  He added this because during his presidency, the Cold War was intensifying and the United States was fighting Communism, so the line was added to inspire a more unified population.

This decision has been controversial, as it brings into question the separation of Church and State detailed in the Constitution.

“I would prefer if ‘under God’ wasn’t part of the Pledge, but it’s not a big deal to just leave it out,” James said.

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Pledge participation causes controversy