The Pledge Of Allegiance Essay

1843 words - 7 pages

At the beginning of each day in many public and private schools around the country, students stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, 35 states have passed laws mandating that the Pledge be recited on a daily basis. This issue has been a source of controversy for years. On one side of the argument exists families and educators who believe in the citizenship and patriotism that reciting the Pledge brings (Chiodo, 2011). On the opposing side, families and educators argue the possible threat to an individual’s First Amendment freedoms.
Before analyzing the above described controversy, we must first examine the history of the Pledge itself. Written by Francis Bellamy, it was originally titled the “Pledge to the Flag” and was created in the late 1800’s to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. It originally read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all” (McCarthy, 2005). Changes were later made to include the words “of the United States” and “of America” to indicate which flag was being referenced. The final changes to the Pledge came in 1954 when it officially became titled the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the words “under God” were added after “one nation.” This addition to the Pledge was meant to support the United States as a religious nation. While signing the law to put this change into effect, President Eisenhower said, “In this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war” (McCarthy, 2005).
Many parents, educators, and school officials defend the Pledge of Allegiance and other rituals and symbols for the themes of strength, unity, and patriotism they represent. In the wake of the tragic events of September 11th many people held fast to the idea that these rituals and symbols were needed more than ever. Author Laurie Bennett explains that, “In the aftermath […] people were hungry for social rituals and eager to communicate a deeper sense of national belonging. They looked for symbols and rituals that could unite them and forge bonds of community anew” (Bennett, 2004). One such ritual was the Pledge of Allegiance, which President George Bush led the entire nation in just days after 9/11. Many state legislatures also looked for ways to access strength and unity by integrating themes of patriotism into the public schools. This increased emphasis on patriotic exercise, although stemming somewhat from the 9/11 crisis, also came from other sources as well. “Many authors and policymakers have expressed concern about the decline in civil engagement or attention to public life in the U.S. population generally, and among young people in particular. A Subcommittee on Civic Education of the federal judiciary has noted that ‘a high level of civic disengagement, especially among the young, demands a re-commitment to education for active and...

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