What is daily pledge meant to achieve?

Posted: Monday, September 18, 2000

My basic question to mandating the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the school system is: Who or which group drafted legislation to mandate education officials to require students to recite the pledge on every school day? What is the rationale behind the law?

It seems that legislating loyalty will prove just effective as the legislation of Prohibition. Did Prohibition generate abstinence? Or did it induce more of the public to participate in the "bathtub gin" movement? It certainly was a boon to the Mafia. Will reciting the pledge every school day morning induce unquestioned patriotism to the student body or will this constant requirement engender apathy?

What is the daily (school days) recital of the pledge supposed to achieve? Come to think of it, if the outgoing President of the United States (Clinton) and the Republican front-runner for the presidency (G.W. Bush) were required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every school day morning during their youth, would their patriotism to the country be shown by serving in their country's armed forces when their countrymen were required to do so during the Vietnam war? Clinton attended school in England and Bush joined the National Guard, instead of rallying around the flag (another symbol.)

When draftees and volunteers entered the armed services, they raised their right hand, made a step forward, and promised to defend their country. Most of those entering the services served and fought honorably. Some that did raise their right hand, stepped forward, and promised to defend their country decided to defect to Sweden, Canada, and other countries. And they were later pardoned by the Commander in Chief. Was the act of raising the right hand, etc., an effective ritual?

Ironically, Alaskan Natives served and fought in World War I (Billy Cook Sr. of Hoonah being one of them) when they were not truly considered "citizens" and when they were not even allowed to vote. Why did they serve and fight? The pledge by Alaska Natives was unheard of, or not required at that time. In World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and in confrontations in other countries, many Alaska Natives volunteered and pulled the triggers at the time a segment of Alaska's "elite" did not recognize their citizenry or their civil rights.

All of the foregoing notwithstanding, the basic question is: By whom and why was the Pledge of Allegiance mandated? The corollary question: Did the drafters of this legislation feel that Alaskans were not patriotic?

Ken Austin,


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