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Some Area Schools Do Show Disdain for the Pledge of Allegiance—I Have Seen It

In response to the recent concern over certain aspects of the recitation of The Pledge of Allegiance at Mill Creek Elementary School, Colin M. McGroarty deserves strong support for his commitment to patriotism and liberty.

  • The following is a letter to the editor from Geneva resident Andrea Cladis.

In response to the recent news surrounding stipulations of student recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at Mill Creek Elementary School in Geneva, I just have one question, “What is so wrong about teaching our children to respect the country they live in and to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed and fought earnestly for our liberties?”

As a college graduate who is near completion of post-graduate studies in education leading to the acquisition of licensure in English and French, I have spent the past two years teaching and observing at several schools in the Western suburbs. From what I have witnessed as far as disdain for the pledge and complete disregard for patriotism and American values in numerous local schools, I firmly believe in and support the sentiments projected by Colin M. McGroarty in his letter of concern to Mill Creek Elementary School.

While I do believe that the headline for this particular story was misleading on the Geneva Patch, since Colin M. McGroarty was merely citing that he “would shed blood again” to defend the liberties of this county and not actually threatening “blood” in the sense of school violence, I do give credit to the Geneva Patch for posting the complete story including the original letter from McGroarty as well as the school’s response to the concerns of this particular community member.

While I may disagree with McGroarty that fascism is being promoted in our schools, I do agree that the unifying belief in American values and exceptionalism is being denigrated on a routine basis. A few of more common occurrences that I have seen and experienced in over 20 local schools (which will remain anonymous for confidentiality purposes) including elementary, middle and high schools that I believe are actively promoting deleterious attitudes toward American values include the following:

  • Some schools have completely eliminated the recitation of the pledge.
  • Students have the option to either sit or stand to say the pledge — and the majority of students remain seated.
  • The phrase, “Under God” has been removed in many districts as well as “with liberty and justice for all.”
  • Students do not have to put their hands on their hearts while saying the pledge.
  • The majority of classrooms no longer have an American flag hanging in them.
  • Some schools view our country’s flag as a mere symbol that does not hold any real meaning for America — students might use one for pieces of an art project or a rug on the floor of a classroom.
  • In certain social studies classes I have observed, discussions and lessons about patriotism, freedom and the founding document of our country, the Constitution, are broadly overlooked or portrayed in a negative manner.
  • In one particular school, instead of saying the Pledge of Allegiance, students say the “Green Pledge” every afternoon: “I pledge allegiance to the Earth … ”

As a person who has relatives who were involved in our country’s wars and as a student who grew up saying the pledge every single day at school and thanking both veterans and God for the mere privilege to live in a free society where I could go to school and learn every day, it is incredibly disheartening to see that schools — places that were originally designed to teach citizenship and moral values have neglected or even eliminated the important task of educating young people about what it means to be an American.

Is it true that as a collective society we have abandoned the American spirit? Have we lost our sense of nationalism? Have we forgotten what it means to “stand united” or to stand proudly for our country?

A close family friend of mine, Michael Stedman, comes from a military family and has served three lengthy tours overseas in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He will be heading back next month to continue his service to our country. When speaking with him about classrooms without flags, students who make inappropriate gestures at the American flag and those students who remain slouched in their chairs during the Pledge of Allegiance he affirmatively said to me, “I stand up for this country because I believe in America, I believe in opportunity and I believe in the preservation of liberty for the next generation. I know soldiers who have fought and lost their lives or lost their limbs. Those soldiers are no longer able to physically stand up for America. Don’t you think that in the very least young Americans for whom we fight would have the decency to stand up in gratitude, in thanks, in support of their country? They should stand up for those who can’t and be eternally grateful for the blessing of living in America.”

I do not think that I could have conveyed this issue in a more powerful manner than Mr. Stedman. Our children are not entitled to freedom and they should certainly not find entitlement in apathy toward the very country in which they live. Our freedoms are based on a very simple document that a handful of brave people created over 200 years ago to fight against big government and taxation. This document, the U.S. Constitution, set our country’s founding principles of limited government, free markets and personal responsibility. The Constitution gave every single American an equal chance to pursue happiness and champion a limited government that would protect them from enemies and respect their individual rights such as free speech and the right to bear arms so as to be the last line of defense against a future tyrannical government such as the one they just broken away from in England.

As Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

I believe that as a nation we must preserve freedom for our children and in so doing, we have an obligation to teach them well. In our homes, our churches, our communities, and schools, we must make it an absolute priority to teach our children to value and cherish the liberty that has been so graciously gifted to them. After all, it is not until we can actually identify and recognize a right that we realize just how very fragile it truly is.

Jennifer January 15, 2013 at 03:12 PM
I am shocked and saddened to read statements regarding the current youth and their perceived lack of understanding what sacrifice for their country would entail. Someone stated.." With each passing generation we become a little more removed from the concept of duty and sacrifice" And another person stated.."The problem with our generation and younger is that we don't know what it is like to sacrifice for the go our country." I can't believe what I am reading! Did we forget about the soldiers dying in wars as we sit behind our computers? The current youth have known nothing but war in their lives. My children and myself attended the funeral for a soldier in Batavia last year. I believe he was 18 years old. My children's cousin served in both Iraq and Afghanistan recently. My school aged kids sent him letters and packages while he fought in those wars. The current youth are signing up and committing to serve our country with the threat of war and death on the horizon. We are not out of the woods yet. Those wars are winding down but the kids signing up today with Uncle Sam surely know what they might be sacrificing. Thank a soldier today. Yes, young people are out there serving their country right now! I believe the kids in school today, reciting the pledge, surely understand the ultimate sacrifice more than we realize. They have witnessed it their whole lives.
Colin C. January 15, 2013 at 04:22 PM
I've been debating saying this but I just as well get myself in trouble again. My first memory was Pearl Harbor. I was three. I remember WWII seen through the eyes of a child. We lived on the east coast and it was real. Blackout drills, war bond drives, German prisoners of war transported through town. A great sense of mutual sacrifice shared for a great purpose. Then came the ambiguity of Korea. Technically we are still at war there. Was anything really gained? Viet Nam. I was too old for the draft but lost three good friends and two students. For what? It is now clear that we were lied to by our Government time and again. I think that those who profited from that war, politicians and businesses used "patriotism" as a way of rallying support for what many saw as a tragic farce from the beginning. So many brave, dedicated, promising young lives wasted on the egos of two Presidents and a dysfunctional Department of Defense. Which was the more patriotic, to support that war or protest it? And now, once again. We were lied to about Iraq and so many brave and dedicated people are lost, for what? And still we slog on in Afghanistan with no good resolution in sight, with our best and bravest being put in harm's way in the name of patriotism. I guess, at some level I can understand the motives of the politicians who sit in their deeply padded chairs sending our kids off to war but I cannot understand why so many of us blindly support them. Is that patriotism?
Jen Marsh January 15, 2013 at 04:33 PM
We are ALL sitting our deeply padded chairs, frankly. I still think children should be taught the pledge.
Jen Marsh January 15, 2013 at 04:33 PM
*sitting in
No more taxes January 15, 2013 at 04:56 PM
There is a reason why older people are not drafted nor usually serve in wars. They are past the point where risking their life for no reason makes sense. Iraq and Afghanistan have nothing to do with America and neither country was or is a threat to our national security. The terrorists were Saudis and Pakistan harbors terrorists yet we give them billions and don't attack them. We went to war in Korea and Vietnam over "communism" yet now are in business with China and owe them $$$. War sells papers and gets ratings for TV. It sells guns and keeps millions employed that vote. Dying today in Iraq/Afghanistan accomplishes what? How is it patriotic? What is it accomplishing for the US? The debt it is causing is hurting our country not helping. We have a base in Saudi Arabia. We could have frozen their cash and forced them to get Bin Laden. That base also keeps the Saudi rulers in power and is why our presence there is not wanted and causes issues with the radical Muslims. Iran does not like us because we kept the Shah in power for years. We supported Sadam Hussein and supplied him early on in Iraq. There are many dictators and bad regimes everywhere. We can't fight them all nor do we care to. Usually we are right behind those dictators supporting them. We don't like Cuba but sure do get a lot of oil from Venezuela. Wonder what is really behind our foreign policy? Duty to our country should be simple. Work and study hard, follow the laws, treat others nicely.
Tom Brown January 15, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Wow! I did not know all that was going on! "I pledge allegiance to the earth"???? Cripes! We just gave these fools a raise??? Again??? No flags in classrooms? Who do they think pays their bills? The "Earth"? I was kinda on the fence about this teacher pay thing, but if they're going to brainwash the kids with whatever pop philosophy they seem to think is cool today and not teach the basics, I think it's time for some serious changes. Stand up. Say the pledge with your hand over your heart. If you want to complain, tell you parents. They'll explain it...Jeez, I hope so anyway. Despite our differences, we have to stick together on a few things. Love of country is one of those things. If we have that, we can solve the rest...Together. s
Hifi January 15, 2013 at 05:30 PM
They say that, "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel". In that case, the Pledge, being only lip-service to patriotism, must be the last refuge of a crook when a politician puts it on display.
Jen Marsh January 15, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Yes...my thoughts, exactly.
Tom Brown January 15, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Colin: No, that is not patriotism. Patriotism is what is explained in the Pledge of Allegiance...the one with God in it. We don't pledge to Rumsfeld or the generals who lied to Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon about our chances over there to preserve their prestige. The presidents, I think, really thought they were doing what was best for the country at the time. I think it's a question of us molding the world in our favor or leaving it up to someone else, which never turns out well. How'd you like Putin or someone pulling the strings over there? You may see this in your lifetime, especially if we keep teaching our children this way. No More Taxes: Your simplistic view of these little countries is astounding. N. Korea has a massive government sponsored counterfeiting program...printing our money and spreading it around. Cyber attacks coming from terrorist groups with bases in little countries like Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Malaysia and Afghanistan. There are a lot of ways to tear down a country besides hurling missiles at it. Turning us against ourselves is one of the best and we seem to be doing it to ourselves. "Work and study hard, follow the laws, treat others nicely." Really? By that measure, we'd all become soldiers...or Chinese peasants. What happens when these things conflict? "Follow the laws" might conflict with "Treat others nicely"...Like when you are IN A WAR. Study hard? Study WHAT?
Hifi January 15, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Nobody died for the Pledge. The Pledge has nothing to do with honoring soldiers and war. It's for indoctrination of impressionable youth in nationalism, so that they will be loyal to a central, monopoly government at the expense of states rights. If the Pledge has anything to do with soldiers, it is to ensure that more hapless young people will serve themselves up as fodder in the wars of oligarchs.
Jen Marsh January 15, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I am all for critical thinking but it does seem like a whole lot of negativity towards being patriotic. Your point of view is something personal to you. It is no one's truth but yours.
Hifi January 15, 2013 at 05:59 PM
I think the one thing we can stick together on is no brainwashing, especially by the government. Pledging allegiance is anti-federal. When the Pledge was first rolled out in the late 19th century, conservatives were highly suspect that it would undermine federalism. Federalism makes states and individuals equal to the national government. It's not an accident that a socialist wrote the Pledge for the express purpose of inculcating nationalism in hapless children, so that their highest allegiance would be serving the central, monopoly government. Let's all agree on leaving politics out of the schools. Teach children civics, the Constitution, history and let them decide for themselves if the current form of American government appeals.
Hifi January 15, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Tom, Wow, looks like the Pledge sure worked on you. War-monger much?
Hifi January 15, 2013 at 06:20 PM
So you believe your point of view is useless, why share it? But you're right, you can be wrong in your point of view if you're not informed and don't exercise critical thinking. For example, you can see negativity towards a meaningless daily chant, or you can see negativity from people like you about our great schools, devoted teachers and awesome kids, the best of whom exercise their freedom of speech on a daily basis by refusing to stand for a ridiculous brainwashing exercise.
No more taxes January 15, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Tom, my view isn't simplistic I just only have so many letters or time allowed in these posts. N. Korea we have done nothing about for over 60 years now and sat by while they developed nuclear weapons. We could have sat down with China and told them to handle it or we would and how that could effect our trade with them. Cyber attacks? Are we going to send troops to every country that some terrorists move to? You seem to be in favor of us molding the world in our favor but we have consistently supported dictators and not cared about promoting democracy in those countries. My point on being a good person / good American was that we have many problems in this country not caused by other countries and terrorists. We lose more to drunk drivers yearly than have been killed overseas the last 10 years. We shoot our own in our streets, safer in Afghanistan then Englewood for some. Our business leaders will rob corporations for their own good, lay off thousands, send jobs overseas and walk away with cash in their pocket but leaving a company in worse shape when they took over. Many of our problems are our own fault. We want cheap goods even if our neighbor loses his job, we want healthcare but don't want the poor to have access, until we our laid off and need it, we complain about gas prices but drive cars that our too big for our needs...
JC January 15, 2013 at 07:18 PM
It is time for a history lesson. The flag is a symbol that has evolved from the coats of arms of the feudal lords under which the lord’s armies fought. In America “We the People” are the lords for which the military fights. Contrary to the position made by radicals the pledge is not any type of indoctrination, rather it is a reminder of the responsibilities of living in a democracy. Our freedoms have been secured by brave men and women who have potentially been injured in the performance of their duties. We have the duty to honor, respect and take care of those willing to die for the freedoms we enjoy. I have grown tired of members of both parties attacking positions without proof of what they are claiming. I was under the impression that the pledge and a moment of silence are mandated each day by the state of Illinois by law. If this is true then the right should be very happy as this is evidence of how power is in the hands of the states. There have been printings in this paper that claim that Obama is somehow responsible for the pledge in class. My issues are very simple, if the author of this Op-Ed is correct there are many schools violating the law and the schools are incorrect. HIFI, there are some of your posts that I find intriguing and have warranted research on my part but the tendency to rant and attack is disconcerting to me
Terry Flanagan January 15, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Frankly I'm kind of surprised that we're even having this discussion because this was not the first or only question that came to my mind when I heard about this incident. In fact, it wasn't even on my radar. Questioning people's patriotism has been in vogue the past few years. However, patriotism is not determined by reciting the pledge of allegiance, or by whether or not you wear a flag pin on your lapel, or whether or not you display the flag or know the words to the Star Spangled Banner. It's measured by how well you live up to the ideals upon which this country was founded. I certainly don't think this incident was any display of patriotism or an example of following the principles that made this nation great. Patriotism is not only found on the battlefield but wherever one takes a stand for liberty and justice for all. And no matter how fervently you recite the pledge, it's pointless if you don't put those ideals into practice.
Jeannie Cormier Scown January 15, 2013 at 07:52 PM
I just have to say yikes! We ignore pollution that harms us, we ignore the thieves that stole our 401Ks, we ignore those that buy our elections, we ignore the hungry that live within a mile of us, we ignore the abused, the unhealthy, the poor, the mentally ill....but we're all good if we say the pledge "under God"...
Jen Marsh January 15, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Ms. Scown, This discussion is about the pledge. A new thread about the issues you have mentioned would be ideal. However, I have not compared the importance or degree of offense to changing or omitting the pledge to any of the things you have mentioned. Can this issue be it's own? After all, the above letter is about reciting the flag. Why lump it in the pile of other problems? Does that mean that because I am voicing my opinion on this issue, I am not using my time/intelligence effectively?
Matilda B January 15, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Jeannie and Terry, you are right. Jen, only you can answer your last line while the rest of us will have our opinions on it
Jen Marsh January 15, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Ms. B, Just staying on topic.
JC January 15, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Tom, Wow, do you know what you are talking about? Teachers do not determine whether or not the pledge is said in the classroom. as posted above teachers are also not allowed to compel students to act in a particular way during the pledge if it is said. You post as if all of the evils are the teachers' fault. if you wish to speak intelligently on this matter please educate yourself from some other source than the one you currently use as it is blatantly obvious that the source you use perpetuates lies about the teaching profession. All those who are so wholeheartedly agreeing with Tom please see above.
No more taxes January 15, 2013 at 10:30 PM
well said
User Name January 16, 2013 at 04:24 AM
Do you know the whole story?
Jp January 16, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I'm wondering, has the flag in the classroom been replaced by a portrait of the GEA Party Chairman?
Kl January 17, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Looks like Jeff Ward is trying to ride your coattails today, Andrea.
juicebox February 17, 2013 at 03:46 PM
no room in our school systems for threats to our children or to our teachers from the american flag is not america. It has no rights under the constitution. i believe any natural born citizen should be responsible for reciting the pledge. any pledge will do and if you disagree with it, have your kids ignore it. on another note: individuals carrying a grudge, when you lose your wife, your kids, your house, arrested for illegal entry and who knows what else, no one should ever have to face a risk at the school where our kids go. what about parents using alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, pills... who?, usually the ones hitting bottom.
Jack March 05, 2013 at 03:40 PM
It would appear then, after doing some simple arithmetic, that the fundamental problem of globalization stems from the fact that US workers expect to be paid more than their services are worth. Why are we blind to the inevitable results of government payments for not working--the direct cause of our inability to recover promptly from this recession? There is work everywhere needing to be done, but we are paying people for two years NOT to go to work. We further obscure the truth when we lie to ourselves about the true unemployment numbers. The solutions are simple enough, but government under-written sloth makes those solutions impossible. We have millions out of work, yet we continue to buy non-necessity items produced by foreign workers. Are we stupid, or what?
Jack March 05, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Justin, About the Pledge: the point admittedly is indoctrination--no two ways about it. That can be bad or it can be good, depending on the principles--the doctrine--being introduced into young minds. Reciting the Pledge, singing the National Anthem and saluting the flag is a whole lot more comfortable for me when I think of the principles in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution. These are the things to which I shall always be faithful. When I see what our Nation is becoming, then I am not so comfortable with the Pledge. If our flag represents a Nation of unbelievers and scoffers distracted by "bread and circuses", who know little and care less about history and about the inevitable results of continuing in our present direction, then my enthusiasm for the Pledge, the Anthem and the salute wanes. Yes, I have served. Not only in peace, but also in war. And I took an oath, for which I am still accountable after many years, to "... support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic ...." We have plenty of both types of enemies, and too often--as the comic-strip character Pogo said--some of those enemies are us.
Jack March 05, 2013 at 04:51 PM
"Teach your children well...." --Crosby, Stills, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztVaqZajq-I

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