Patriotism for All - Solutions

As patriots, our responsibility is to not only loyalty to our nation's founding principles,
but to exemplify them by encouraging the practice and expression of patriotism.

SOLUTIONS: What can we do? There are several possible outcomes that, to varying degrees, would be welcome by parents and their children who are now excluded from the patriotic activity at school:

I. Change the Activity:
The recommended patriotic exercise could be changed to one that everyone could participate in without consideration.

The options here might include:

  1. Improve the current Pledge:

    A Pledge to America might read:
    "I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, regardless of belief."

    - Pros: This kind of statement would go even further than what we do now to show today's communist nations, as well as nations whose citizens labor under religious dictatorships, what America is truly about, what makes us different and better.

    - Cons: People who are strictly attached to the tradition. People whose religious agenda is advanced by the current wording.

  2. Restore the Pledge to it's original, unifying version:
    "I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    - Pros: It is traditional. It was used for 62 years, from 1892 to 1954, when"under God" was added. Who could oppose the Pledge as it was intended?

    - Cons :People whose religious interest is promoted by the current practice.

  3. Substitute the singing of patriotic songs or the reading and recitation of sections of patriotic speeches or documents.

    - Pros: More opportunity to know better the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Gettysburg address, etc. couldn't but help develop patriotism even more than we try to do now with the Pledge as the daily activity. Even if there are references to deity in some of these, oaths to them aren't being made, thereby removing relgious objections.

    - Cons: People whose religious interest is promoted by the current practice.

II. Change the Context:
Another approach is that, instead of changing the exercise, the context of the saying of the Pledge could be changed, so as to minimize the potential of the abstaining student to feel marginalized or to be misunderstood by peers.

Options here might include:

  1. Rotate the Pledge in with alternative exercises on a weekly basis, so that the saying of the Pledge was only once a week and at school events as in the Catawba School District.

    (The staff at the Adams School in Castine, Maine, decided to introduce five daily pledges -- a different one each day. They got their inspiration from literature, history, and pop culture. Included: Examples of daily pledges. Education World: Use a Daily "School Pledge" to Build Community )

    - Pros: Non-participating students would find themselves not left out quite so often and would have ample opportunity to participate in patriotic exercises. Whatever purpose the Pledge is meant to serve will be sufficiently met. In fact, when surveyed, many students who have no objection to the Pledge, as-is, state that the daily repetition makes it less special.

    - Cons: None?

  2. Inform students of the rights of their classmates, their teachers and themselves in respect of the saying of the Pledge.

    In Madison, Wisconsin, the Education Code requires that before the saying of the Pledge, it is stated,

    "Participation in the pledge is voluntary. Whoever wishes to participate may stand; others may remain seated. Please respect each other's choices."

    - Pros: This would be an even more sensitive way to treat abstaining students, more adequately informing their peers. It would help minimize the potential for discrimination and feelings of marginalization in those who choose not to participate.

    - Cons: None. And the Madison district is good precedent.

The bottom-line is that there are choices here. There may be many others. Please contact PAF with your solutions. Patriotism demands that all Americans be willing to work toward the best result for all.