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The Pledge of Allegiance: To stand or not to stand

November 14, 2016

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Veterans Day is every day: Why I stand for the Pledge

Brandon Cooper stands for the pledge.

Brandon Cooper stands for the pledge.

Tory Spruill

Tory Spruill

Brandon Cooper stands for the pledge.

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With police brutality, the election results, and the frustrating way the country is (or is not) operating, I completely understand why some choose to exercise their right to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some wanted to lay on the floor during the Pledge.

I believe that it is respectful to stand for these few seconds–11 seconds by my calculation. Respect should be a social norm, and I believe that standing for the Pledge is a good start. I am not standing because I support the wrongs in our society.  I stand out of respect for what is right.

I respect those who risk their lives for our country, those who educate the children of our country, and those who help the sick and poor to build a better country.

I stand for the good.

I stand for the Sentinel who guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Rigorously trained, and alone, the guard paces back and forth in front of the tomb. Through rain, sleet and snow they guard the tomb selflessly.

Each guard goes through an intensive training cycle including uniform preparation, knowledge, tests on weapon manuals, ceremonial steps, cadence, military bearing and orders. All of this ceremony honors the dead and illustrates the respect they have for their country. 

If the Sentinel can stand for hours, I can stand for 11 seconds.

I stand for my brother, an Airborne Paratrooper for the US Army, who has made over a dozen jumps out of an airplane preparing to be deployed wherever his country needs him. He spends countless hours training, guarding posts and preparing to risk his life.  

While stationed at Fort Bragg, LHS Class of 2015 Chris Cooper, goes through physical training, land navigation, practice at gun ranges, and, recently, he tried for his Expert Infantry Badge.  If he can stand for hours to keep me safe, I can stand for 11 seconds.

I also stand for my mom, Christy Cooper, who spent eight years in the military working as a critical care nurse, including a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan.

She worked at Camp Bastion helping soldiers who were severely injured on the battlefields fighting America’s enemies. One difficult experience was caring for Marine Corporal Timothy Donley who, only 19 years old and in the military for less than a year and Afghanistan for less than 30 days, needed to be given 72 units of blood after being injured by an IED (improvised explosive device).

While Donley was clinging to life, my mother helped save this man who lost both of his legs and almost lost his arm. They were later reunited in the Wounded Warrior ward of Walter Reed hospital. His mother ran to mine and thanked my mom for saving her son.  

If a man has lost the ability to stand by serving our country, I can stand for 11 seconds out of respect. If my mother can stand for hours, holding another person’s life in her hands, I can be thankful and stand for 11 seconds in response.

Respect for these sacrifices and for the good in our country is needed. Slogans such as “Hillary for Prison” and other disrespectful remarks displayed in public show that this country is in dire need of respect. The recent presidential race is substantial evidence of the lack of respect and how much we need to improve.

In the classroom, respect is necessary, and a simple act of standing for the Pledge is a start. For classroom functionality, respect is at the core. The teacher must give respect to the students while also receiving respect from those students. Without this positive attitude, learning could not take place.

Standing for the Pledge has always been a sign of respect for the freedom we have and an opportunity to realize from whom and how we received that freedom. For those reasons I will always stand.




Christy Cooper and Timothy Donley.

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  1. Liz Wright on November 11th, 2016 5:03 am

    As a twelve year veteran, I appreciate those that Stand. Stand in recognition of service, Stand for those who cannot and those that will not. Thank you for standing out of Respect and understanding Service with Honor. Fair Winda and Following Seas.

  2. Lori Warrenfeltz on November 11th, 2016 6:00 am

    Well spoken! The Cooper’s have raised three phenomenal boys that will love and respect our country forever! God bless you Brandon, and keep writing!

  3. Cheryl Novotny on November 11th, 2016 7:26 am

    Brandon, As an Airborne Veteran, teacher, and mother I appreciate your heartfelt and sincere story. Thank you! Mrs. Novotny

  4. David Rogers on November 11th, 2016 8:03 am

    Thanks Brandon for providing an excellent affirmation of who we should be as Americans. Continue to be an affirming person throughout your life wherever you go to friend and foe, but especially to those who need to hear a word of hope and encouragement and affirmation for what is right and good and pure. Find the good and praise it….be the beacon of hope in the lives of those who are the fiber that keeps our country going in spite of those who seek to tear it apart.

  5. Gretchen Eyler on November 11th, 2016 9:15 am

    These words are beautiful. One of the things I wanted to teach my children most was respect. Respect for self. Respect for others. Respect for God. It is something that has lost its value to many. Thank you for your thoughts.

  6. Georgia Geisser on November 11th, 2016 9:41 am

    Brava!! Many students could learn a thing or two from you. Well said.

  7. Sue Ann Nogle on November 17th, 2016 10:39 am

    Well stated, Brandon! Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts, experiences and values in such a respectful manner. Keep writing~you have a gift!

  8. Barbara Ferguson on December 4th, 2016 12:47 pm

    Brandon, You have spoken well and you “live your values”. You display your respect in all you do. I know you will continue to “stand” for your beliefs. I hope your article has encouraged some personal reflection for those who agree and those who disagree. I am honored to have had an opportunity to teach you. Thank you for your brave words.

Why I don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

Summer Etzler sits for the pledge.

Summer Etzler sits for the pledge.

graphic by Tory Spruill

graphic by Tory Spruill

Summer Etzler sits for the pledge.

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Ever since the beginning of my junior year, I stopped standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. I was hesitant to do this because I was worried about what others would think of me. I knew it would be a risky protest, but I want to make others aware of why I am protesting.

There has been a controversy in the media about 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who in the beginning of September kneeled during the national anthem and continues to do so. In an interview with NFL media after the game, Kaepernick explained why he took the actions he did.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” said Kaepernick in the interview with NFL media. 

I stopped standing for the pledge last year and just recently stopped standing for the national anthem when I heard about Colin Kaepernick doing the same thing. One reason why I stopped standing is because we’re never taught what the Pledge of Allegiance actually means. We start saying the Pledge of Allegiance in kindergarten. We’ve been saying it for so long, I think we’re saying it without knowing why. It’s just something we say every day because it’s a social norm. I think we should be educated about the pledge and then have the choice whether or not we want to say it instead of standing at such a young age without knowing what it means.

Another reason why I stopped standing was because of the line in the pledge “One Nation Under God.” I think this is discriminatory towards people who don’t believe in God or believe in multiple gods.

“One Nation Under God” was added by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 because of national fear of the threat of Soviet Communism. We no longer live in 1954. I think this part of the pledge helps extremist politicians and preachers validate that those that don’t believe in God don’t belong in America.

This contradicts the part of the pledge that says “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Indivisible means we can rise above our differences. We can’t rise above our differences if there are still powerful people in America being discriminatory against people of different faiths.

“Liberty and justice for all” is not provided for minority groups in America. For example, members of the LGBTQ community are refused service in some areas of the country. Also, immigrants who live in Louisiana can’t get married. There are also injustices against African Americans and other races who aren’t white. Some include recent shootings of Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, and Samuel Dubose.

Many people have called me out for sitting for the pledge, including teachers. The question I get asked often by other students is “Do you hate your country, is that why you’re not standing?”  No, I don’t hate my country. I’m one of the privileged people in this country because I’m white, my family isn’t poor, I get my education, and I rarely face discrimination. So how could I hate living in this country? I just don’t agree with positions our government and our society have taken.

What I hope to achieve when I sit for the pledge is to make other people aware of why I’m sitting. I like when people ask me why I sit so I can educate them about my concerns with this country and hopefully make them look at things from another point of view. I want this country to be more progressive in working towards equality.

I don’t think I can solve the world’s problems just by sitting for the pledge and national anthem. However, I do think sitting makes more people aware of issues in America. I want people to try to be open minded and educate themselves about equality in this country. I think the more people who work for equality, the more likely we can make a difference.


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  1. Daizy on March 6th, 2017 5:12 pm

    I agree 100% I am glad there’s people out there who agree and have the same view points as me.

  2. Tracy on April 23rd, 2017 3:35 pm

    I definitely agree that “under God” should be removed from the pledge, as it has made me personally uncomfortable since elementary school. I’ll be graduating college soon and am hoping to become a teacher. I’ll be back to saying the pledge again. I began sitting through the pledge in high school as well, but as I teacher, I think I should set a different example.

    You say that the end “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” is complicated for you because you don’t think this is an accurate representation of our country. While I agree with that, I think it’s important to pledge yourself to working towards indivisibility, liberty and justice every day.

    So I’m not against the pledge, but I will be looking into ways to advocate for the removal of “under God,” and I hope that you find a way to advocate for that as well.

  3. Dalton on September 1st, 2017 5:41 pm

    Whether you support this country or, it’s not the country that is racist. It’s the people who have nothing to live for. If you are letting people keep you from saying the pledge, just go to another country. Besides there are guys overseas right now getting killed so that you can speak your mind on the internet. They don’t care if you support them or not. They died for you and you can’t say a simple thing pledge

  4. Anonymous on September 30th, 2017 8:41 pm

    Isn’t it patriotic and respectful though to exercise the rights they fought for?

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