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I Pledge Allegiance…Until I Am No Longer Forced To

I have not said the Pledge of Allegiance since approximately 1976, when I was 16 years old. I remember putting one hand over my heart, and reciting the words in elementary school, oblivious to what I was saying, along with the other kids, like robots. The pledge was rote recitation that students were collectively forced to repeat every morning together, and nothing more. We did not discuss the Pledge together, on our own time, on the playground, as young kids. I do not remember ever swelling with American pride during the Pledge. I do not remember even thinking about what the Pledge of Allegiance meant, until I was old enough to not want to recite it.

By junior high, I was not excited about the Pledge of Allegiance for many reasons, and I do not remember being forced to recite it in public junior high. I remember my reasons for not wanting to recite it were the problems with blind allegiance to a flag or country, as the Pledge states. I felt since my country had just come out of the Civil Rights, Feminist, and anti-Vietnam War movements, not to mention Nixon's resignation and pardon, that scrutiny of government and public policy was warranted and blind allegiance was not appropriate. I felt a DUTY as a participating citizen in this representative republic (that we fondly call a democracy), to investigate what my government was doing in my name, and to stand up in protest when I thought the government was acting inappropriately.

[ Other stories by Kirsten Anderberg ]

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