The potential death of the Pledge of Allegiance

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Morgan McCartney

The American flags lies forgotten in the corner as senior Anna Myatt ignores its presence.

Morgan McCartney, Business Manager

The Pledge of Allegiance has been a patriotic staple in America since 1892 and is one of the first things that elementary students have to memorize. But this pledge has quickly become a distant memory across the country.

The history of this oath dates back to September 18th, 1892, when it was published in “The Youth’s Companion.” In recognition of the discovery of America, Francis Bellamy wrote a new salute to the flag to commemorate Columbus day. The heavily debated phrase, “under God” was incorporated into the pledge by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. Ever since, many activists have tried to take the pledge down.

A prominent activist against the pledge, Michael Newdow, has attempted to abolish this pledge three times, but he has come up unsuccessful. This changed, however, with the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943. In response to this case, author Austin Cline of ThoughtCo. stated, “Although the state might have a certain amount of interest in having some uniformity among students, this wasn’t enough to justify forced compliance in a symbolic ritual or forced speech.”

With that, schools were restricted from forcing children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to protect freedom of speech. While this was a substantial change for schools and had satisfied many worried parents, in today’s society, multiple groups have decided to take this change a step further. 

A most recent banning of the Pledge of Allegiance was from Michigan’s Grand Valley State University. Their student government system decided to ban the pledge due to its promised loyalty to an “oppressive” government. Cabot Phillips of Fox News recalled this event, stating, “Grand Valley’s students claimed anyone failing to see mass oppression in America is blinded by privilege.” 

These students’ remarks brought forth, once again, the heavily debated destiny of America’s Pledge of Allegiance. While some students view it as irrelevant or meaningful, Senior Grace Welveart believes its significance lies somewhere in between. “It’s a middle ground. I do agree that schools shouldn’t force the pledge but I don’t believe that colleges should ban it. It’s an interesting and patriotic practice but it doesn’t make or break anything,” she said.

As the Pledge of Allegiance declines in popularity, the few that continue to proclaim honor for their country believe in its importance. Writer Eric Copeland views the pledge as a way of unification for the country. “As political and cultural issues separate us, the United States Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance binds us together,” said Copeland.

Even so, the forced patriotism of the pledge leaves many on the fence and in opposition of its anticipated purpose. For senior Roger D. Pavey Jr., the idea of “worshiping a piece of cloth in God’s name” is not the American standard he supports. Therefore, he does not view the Pledge of Allegiance as a way to bring people together but rather a way to pull them apart.

As the Pledge of Allegiance continues to lose approval in today’s society, the need for a unifying symbol still remains unsatisfied and America remains divided.