I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The schools couldn’t legally force me to say it, but they tried to anyway. Whatever my parents’ faults, they went to bat for me every time. It was never a question of patriotism for me but a willingness to conform and obey.
At one point my dad announced a great victory: That I’d be allowed to leave out the “God” part. 🤦🏻♀️ He’d totally, totally, missed the point.
I don’t ever recall having used the ‘G’ word. In elementary school I would simply mumble the pledge before I quit entirely. Something about standing there, chanting in unison without really understanding what it was we were saying just made me super uncomfortable.
When I got older, it became the notion of the Pledge itself — rather than the delivery — that bothered me the most. I love America, I think it is the greatest country in the world and (despite its many imperfections) that it has the greatest system of government ever conceived.
But I’m not willing to pledge to my allegiance to any state or nation or any symbol thereof. I believe in loyalty to ideas. To principles. And even in junior high my word meant something to me, and I wasn’t about to make any pledge I didn’t mean.
My dad fought hard against the schools to allow me to simply stand for the Pledge. Even that bothered me because the school was still trampling my 1st Amendment rights by insisting (yes, the SCOTUS has ruled on it), but I since I’d already been standing anyway, I wasn’t about to make a big deal of it.
Even after the administrators acquiesced, I was still prone to getting teachers and substitutes who would try to force me to say it anyway. It was obnoxious. They’d try all sorts of tactics, including denouncing me in front of my classmates for “disrespecting our military”. Which was a disgusting charge. They didn’t care about the troops. All they cared about was conformity and obeisance.
I have zero problem with the Pledge being said in schools or public gatherings, but I do have a huge, huge problem with people being illegally forced to say it or subjected to harrassment when they refuse.
As a side note, the history of the Pledge is rather interesting and dripping with irony. One could half-kiddingly describe Francis Bellamy as a National Socialist. (Drops to one-quarter kiddingly when you factor in the salute.)