A Stand or A Seat

Students make their own decisions regarding standing or sitting for the Pledge

Since I was in preschool, before I even knew the meaning of what I was doing, I stood up, placed a hand on my heart, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The words will forever be ingrained in my mind. 

In fact, according to The Hill, 47 U.S. states require the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited daily in public schools. However, in 1943, it was determined in the Supreme Court ruling West Virginia vs. Barnette that “no school or government can compel someone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or salute the flag.”

Many students have differing reasons for why they do or do not choose to stand for the Pledge, whether the choice be based on personal beliefs, relative experiences, or even family views.

“Honestly, it’s something my parents taught me– always be respectful to people that lost their lives overseas,” sophomore Seth White, who stands, said. “Nobody that I know served in the military but I still think it’s important to have at school.”

On the other hand, junior Claire ‘Graham’ Baijnauth, the child of an immigrant and member of the LGBTQ+ community, does not stand for the Pledge.

“I’ve experienced a lot of racism and prejudice,” Baijnauth said. “I struggle every day standing up and pretending to care about a country that doesn’t care about me.”

A view of neutrality to the Pledge has also become common among the student body, including that of junior Caedan Vetro, who feels that there are better ways to praise the ideals of the US and those who have fought for it than reciting the Pledge every morning. 

“I can get behind soldiers, but I feel like I can support it in different ways than standing for the Pledge. It just seems like a chant.” Vetro said. “I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really care that much. In general, I’m really more of a citizen of the world rather than just this country,” Vetro said. “I get that people stand up for it, but personally, it’s not so much for me.”

Around the school, students show respect for the opinions of others– whether they are similar or different from what they believe. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s disrespectful [to sit for the Pledge], they [soldiers] fought for you to be able to have your own opinion, have your own thought process,” White said. 

According to the Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA), Nebraska students are not required to stand for or recite the Pledge, as long as they are silent during the Pledge, to respect those who do choose to stand. However, students are not often explicitly informed of this right.

“You are within your constitutional rights to not stand for the Pledge and not to say the Pledge, but that’s never something that’s advertised or spread. It feels weird because you’re not telling these kids or educating these kids that you don’t have to.” Baijnauth said.

With students making their own choices regarding the Pledge, a lot of variety can be seen in MN classrooms.

“I think it’s good to have a variety of it, so it’s not seen as forced anymore,” Vetro said. “People should be able to do whatever they want.”

Each student is entitled to a choice. We all get to stand (or sit) for what we believe in.