My America stands on its own

Forcing others to stand contradicts the First Amendment

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At 10 a.m. head football coach Chris Wood’s voice booms throughout the halls. He tells students of upcoming tryouts for various teams and academic opportunities. With students only vaguely listening, the time ticks on. However when his words instruct that all students stand for the pledge of allegiance to honor those who have served our great nation, all seems to halt.

As a volunteer with Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, a first response and military charity that works with rehabilitating injured veterans and first responders, I know the importance of honoring those who have not only served but sacrificed for their country and the freedom that the flag stands for. I stand to honor those people and the country. I have seen through their admiration, a country worth loving, a country they fought to defend.

However, as Coach Wood’s words echoed through the class, there was a change in atmosphere. Adamant teachers that push Coach’s words to the extreme create hostile environments filled with tension between students, some of which who don’t even consider their self American first.

We are blessed beyond belief to live in a country where education is free, opportunities are endless, and people have personal rights that are protected under the law; one of these rights being freedom of expression. You cannot force someone to stand for a pledge and for them to stand proudly as an american.

Instead of forcing students to stand, we should be setting an example. If you want someone to believe and have pride for something, it won’t be by forcing it into someone’s head. Share why you believe in the pledge, in the flag, and in our nation. Students will start standing when they share that feeling, not when being commanded to do so.

Sophomore year, Mike Fotenopulos told my AP World history class that there are only two things you have to do in life; be born and die. With a checklist already half complete it is left up to us to decide how to fill empty space. His words were the first to really show me that the everything I do is a choice and it is up to me to stand up and choose what my actions show. People won’t remember you for how you answered a question wrong in class but instead they’ll remember you for what you stood up for and believed in. The debate of whether or not to stand for the pledge is more than just that, it’s students fighting to stand up for what they believe in, a fight far more deserving to be fought.

Coming from a family that supports the military, I can understand why teachers believe in our country and the flag that waves as a banner over us. However, whether or not someone is an American does not depend on if they stand for a pledge, it is in their heart, in their actions.