I haven’t stood for the Pledge of Allegiance for almost a year.
At a recent school event, when the attendees were asked to stand, I didn’t. Neither did my friend (let’s call him R). However, when we realized a choir which some of our friends belonged to was singing the national anthem, we stood to honor them. We didn’t think it out of the ordinary, and we continued the day in a relative peace.
Later that evening, I was at dinner with R and some of our other friends, and I heard him mention my name. Apparently, while I had continued on my day in peace, R was arguing with a friend of his who commented, “How can you sit for the pledge, but stand for the anthem?”
R and his “friend” argued the whole day, in a conversation that was mostly disrespectful stubbornness from the friend and strong yet exasperated rebuttals from R (with some support from his friends). However, I know some of you reading this now might be asking the same question R’s friend had. Allow me to answer that for you.
The pledge is connotative. For me, the Pledge of Allegiance is a promise that our country’s citizens are going to protect the liberty and justice of everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or status. From police killing innocent people to the wage gap, from states refusing to give marriage licenses to gay couples to the “Build the Wall” movement, it is more than obvious that the “liberty and justice” that the pledge promises is not fulfilled. So, I will not stand for something I don’t believe is happening.
As for our national anthem, I will always stand for it, even if my friends aren’t performing. The national anthem represents for me what the flag represents for a lot of people I talk to—the fight for freedom. Our national anthem was born when Francis Scott Key watched soldiers fight for the preservation of a new nation where people could live as they want. Although the system wasn’t perfect at that time, I still respect the efforts of these brave men, and how they inspired today’s military to continue to preserve our nation, a nation which attempts to be a land in which everyone can live freely. So, out of respect, I stand.
I respect those who stand for the pledge. It has different meaning to them than it does for me, and they are not hurting anyone or anything, so I let them be. However, some of these people cannot show me the same respect. I will get into argument after argument with people who disagree with my choice to not stand. It is these people who I want to address, even if they do tend to be more like brick walls and less like rational people. I ask: If I am not hurting anyone, why are you so persistent when it comes to shaming me for my views? Why do you feel as if me standing for the pledge is the only way I can show respect to the military? Why is standing at a flag and chanting a pledge considered a form of respect to the military?
I don’t think I’ll ever stand for the pledge, because I don’t see this country making the necessary changes to be a more equal state during my lifetime. I will stand for the anthem, because I do as I please in accordance with my beliefs. All I ask is that I give the same respect I give to everyone.