Growing up, most of us can recall starting every single school day by standing up and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.
You could probably recite it by heart right now. At my elementary school, after we were finished saying the pledge, we then moved onto a pitchy rendition of “My Country Tis Of Thee.”
Looking back on all this now, the whole concept of a child robotically pledging “allegiance” to their country each morning with their hand on their heart while looking at the flag is a little bit weird. Yet, so many schools still do this!
“To stand up every morning, and it’s like, it’s really creepy because everybody just knows what to do so, they all just stand. Really weird,” the middle schooler explains before admitting that she doesn’t participate in saying the pledge.
“I sit there, and I don’t say a thing because it’s really creepy that I have to pledge my allegiance to a flag,” she says making a super valid point.
“Is America that fragile?” she jokes. “It’s like a marriage that never worked out like, you’re scared of getting left again.”
Really, though — is she wrong? There is something utterly strange about the tradition of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools especially during a time when so many of us, including young women, are being cast off by the government that represents that very flag. And the fact that the country is supposed to be rooted in independence, freedom, and free thinking — not rote recitation of other people’s ideas.
There’s also the actual content of the Pledge of Allegiance, including the late-stage addition of the phrase, “one nation, under God” and the whole “liberty and justice for all” part which, I mean, maybe if you’re an upper-class cis het white man that’s true, but for the rest of us, that’s all still up for debate.
Also fun fact: The whole “Under God” part of the Pledge didn’t appear in the original Pledge. The two words were added by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 during the Cold War.
After the video went viral, several TikTok users also weighed in on the controversy.
“I once heard someone say ‘If you don’t think it’s weird that our kids do it, imagine us adults having to do it at the start of the workday,” one user wrote.
Another wrote, “We hosted exchange students and they ALL thought it was weird.”
Today, 47 states in the U.S. require the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in public schools, with varying exemptions for students or staff who wish to opt out.
The 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, West Virginia V. Barnette, determined that no school or government can compel someone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or salute the flag, however, states can still require it while offering exemptions.
This middle schooler’s bright and forward observations are pretty valid, and thankfully, her right to sit during the Pledge is protected by law.