The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The freedom to rise or not to rise

We teach how to stand for the flag, but do we teach what we are standing for?
Social pressure makes kids feel they have to say the pledge

It’s 8:20:05 a.m.; advisory just started. Suddenly three bells go and you are startled by an over-enthusiastic “GOOD MORNING TREVS! PLEASE JOIN ME FOR A MOMENT OF SILENCE AND THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.” Now I can say with complete certainty, you are awake. 

Since we were in elementary school we have been asked to stand up, raise our right hand over our heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. When you are young, you likely did as you were told. Every day from the first day of kindergarten till the last day of 4th grade, I would stand and say the pledge. It was like muscle memory. 

I believe national pride is very important. A country can’t be strong without it. But pledging to a flag every morning is a step too far.

Overtime, more and more students in my homeroom and eventually in my advisery would not say the pledge let alone stand up. I was a part of that growing population. This was because I had started to understand what exactly I was pledging and it did not fit into my beliefs and the reality of living in this country. 

The pledge states “one nation, under God”. Now this has always confused me because I have gone to a secular public school for the majority of my life. I never attended church and would consider myself an atheist. If this one nation is under one God then that defeats the purpose of the first amendment and freedom of religion. 

Fun Fact: the term “under God” was added in 1952 and was not in the original version from 1892. It was added by Congress with force from President Eisenhower during the growth of communism. This was a change that is now unnecessary and needs amending. Our country has freedom of religion. That freedom also allows people not to practice religion. 

In recent years our politicians have started to bring religious views into their policy making. A prominent argument made by pro-life politicians is that it is against their religion to get an abortion. This article is not about abortion but it baffles me how a politician gets to make a political choice based on their own personal religious beliefs. 

The pledge also talks about serving ‘justice for all’. In the current state of our country, it is unrealistic to say we are giving justice for all. There are numbers of people that aren’t given the justice they deserve and are victims of assault whether it’s sexual or something else. 

Assaulters walk free everyday and the victims have to uproot their lives to avoid coming into contact with a person that should be in prison. Not to mention the amount of people wrongfully imprisoned because of their lack of representation in court. 

Our justice system is very flawed and definitely does not serve justice to everyone. I find it ironic that we pledge justice for all when that is practically impossible. We can’t hold ourselves to the standard that we will serve justice to everyone; although at this point it feels like some parts aren’t putting in the effort. 

I have found from conversation with people that it is heavily believed that the pledge is to give honor to military and other service personnel. This is a wide misconception. The pledge has no relation to the military or honoring those who have died during and after serving in the line of duty. The pledge is a statement of patriotism, written by someone wanting to spread the pride of being an American. Now don’t get me wrong, being proud of where you come from is very important, but having the youth of America stand before the flag each day in the morning pledging that pride is for lack of a better term, cult-ish.

I believe national pride is very important. A country can’t be strong without it. But pledging to a flag every morning is a step too far. I also understand with freedom of speech you are not forced to do any of this. Unfortunately, the looks and comments I get from people at sports games or from my classroom in middle school show me that my freedom to not stand is frowned upon. I should be able to choose what and when I pledge without judgment.

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Comments (1)

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    Martha Bozic
    Jan 29, 2024 at 10:48 pm

    The Pledge of Allegiance is a promise to be loyal to the United States. Your freedom to not recite it is guaranteed by the country you refuse to pledge your loyalty to and that may (rightfully) elicit some judgment. The definition of judgment is the formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation which is what you did so please be consistent. What’s good for the goose…