Americans demonstrated national pride when they swept all three medals in women’s individual fencing at the Beijing Olympic Games. Everyone cheered when the U.S. men’s gymnastics team took home an unexpected bronze. And many Americans partied when Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal and broke the record for winning the most gold in a single Olympic Games.
For those two weeks, Americans were swept off their feet. But when the Pledge of Allegiance is broadcasted over the Public Address everyday, most Stuyvesant students remain seated. It is believed that those who don’t say the pledge are less patriotic than those who do. Being from Canada, I remain seated because I want to remain as neutral as possible—loyal to Canadians and respectful of Americans. Other individuals have their own reasons. Some immigrants, for example, have a deeper appreciation for America. Those born and raised in the U.S. have spent most of their lives here and their Western lifestyles leave little room for comparison to life in developing countries.
Although it seems like American-born teens take their freedom and rights for granted, it may not be their fault. The pledge has not been fully understood in most classrooms, leaving many confused about why they should respect the flag. The pledge is often emphasized by grade school instructors, but it is rarely explained comprehensively. Students in my elementary school felt obligated to stand up and say the pledge, but no one would understand why they were doing it because none of us knew the meaning behind the words. But as we got older, many of us started making our own decisions—some remain seated and others continue doing what they have done since elementary school.
For the many who don’t say it, the pledge only represents values in words rather than values put into action. What does the promise of “liberty and justice for all” mean when our freedom is clearly limited and rights are based on biases? Since there is so much stereotyping in this country, “liberty and justice for all” does not stand true for everyone. So when people root for Team USA or wave the American flag with pride, even if they don’t recite the pledge, it doesn’t mean they lack patriotism or gratitude. You could be looking at some true patriots.