Why do we stand?

An exploration of The Pledge of Allegiance during politically charged times.

October 13, 2017

What does it really mean to pledge allegiance to the national flag? To some, it means showing your pride in your country, and for others it does not mean anything. Considering recent events with the NFL, students at Riverside Brookfield High School have been questioning why they stand for the pledge.

Junior Joseph Vitek is extremely proud to show off his patriotism. Vitek was even willing to risk his extra credit points in a class just so he could stand for the national anthem.

“Our national anthem stands for everything that America is for: freedom, liberty and justice. [The flag] represents everything that we stand for as a country,” said Vitek.

Sophomore Evelyn Buck stands for the pledge because she believes it is respectful to do so.

“The flag is a symbol of unity, a symbol for the people who serve for America. I think kids who sit for the pledge are disrespectful but they have the right to do so,” said Buck.

Other students do not feel the same way. Some students, like junior Jasmine Munoz, sit for The Pledge of Allegiance for reasons of their own.

“I have respect for everyone who has fought for our country but I don’t think I should have to pledge if I don’t believe what I’m saying,” said Munoz.

Senior Emmett Brundage explained that he has been standing for the pledge for so long that he does not really understand what he is pledging to, so he has been sitting.

“We’re taught from a really young age that we have to stand for it. It seems kind of like brainwashing. I’m not really against standing for it but the fact [is] you don’t even have a choice. I don’t do it to take a stand against it, I just care about making choices for yourself,” said Brundage.

Liberty and justice for all…

…or not. America is contradicting itself by condemning NFL protesters and their supporters. I am confounded. It seems that the only reason we even still do the pledge and the national anthem is out of habit. We have been brainwashed by history to aggressively defend our country, disregarding our inevitable faults. The deaths of people of colour did not have to be inevitable. Those who are protesting during the anthem are clearly right and we should be kneeling with them.

This is not a cry for attention. Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players are still people of colour, no matter how much money they make. Despite their celebrity status, they still face the discrimination and have the same fears as other minorities. Although an unlikely platform, it is within their right to protest and express their feelings.

Contrary to popular belief, this has nothing to with disrespecting our country, our flag, or our military. The flag and our country have forever been a symbol of freedom, especially the freedom to assemble. Colin Kaepernick and the other NFL players have explicitly said that they are kneeling because of the indisputable racial inequality and police brutality in America. They are respecting the flag because they are kneeling, representing a flag at half mast for the numerous unjust and unpunished deaths of black Americans. This is not an act of hatred or disrespect. This is their right as American citizens, a right that the military has fought to protect. Protest is the best form of patriotism because they are trying to better our country.

Yet again, America is on the wrong side of history. Civil rights activists have consistently been vehemently hated until years later, when we realize that our criticism was founded on prejudice and not based on the well-being of American citizens as a whole. Colin Kaepernick has sacrificed his reputation, privacy, and career for his community and we should support him before we repeat history.

I don’t understand why, in this day and age, a peaceful protest is somehow more provocative than actual hate crimes. We need to recognize that the top priority of our pride needs to shift behind the value of actual lives of American citizens. The fear of recognizing your overwhelming privilege does not compare to the constant terror that people of colour face while being persecuted in all areas of their lives. Although we as white people cannot ever understand what this feels like, we can fight for the victims of this senseless crime in such a simple act, like kneeling for the pledge.

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  • M

    Madison HeningerOct 19, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Very insightful.

  • W

    Wayne HabelOct 14, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    As a veteran of the Vietnam War who has the honor of being invited to your school every year for your Veterans Day celebration I feel compelled to say that I am deeply offended by those that will not stand for our pledge. Over the course of the 15 or so years that I’ve attended (missing the last two because of health reasons) I’ve had the pleasure to meet many other vets from WW II to our countries men and women currently serving in uniform.
    Although I think all the WW II veterans have now left us I could not have felt more humbled than on those few occasions when I was seated next to a WW II vet during your assembly. When it came time to “stand” and say the pledge those old wheelchair bound, crippled from war or so many passing years made the effort to stand and the veterans on each side of them reached down to help our senior brothers up was an honor and a privilege for me. If those men from America’s greatest generation can manage to stand for the pledge I think everyone else should too.
    There is a time and a place to express ones rights, during the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance is neither the time nor the place. There are two types of people in this country, those that have earned their freedom and know what it takes to maintain it, and those that inherited it and squander it away feeling that there will always be someone to protect it.
    To all those who feel the need to kneel I’d like to suggest they go to Arlington National Cemetery. Once there they can feel free to kneel by any of the small white grave markers and thank the brave individual who lies beneath it for giving their last full measure of devotion so that we can enjoy the freedoms and the life we have been granted.
    In closing I’d like to say God bless each and everyone of you and the United States of America. Hope to see you all November 10 th, 2017

    Wayne Habel.