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Pledge of Allegiance, under God, separation of church/state, essay feedback


kauilani1 1 / -  
Mar 31, 2009   #1
i need help with my essay. i know very little about the separation of church and state. I'm writing about the pledge of allegiance but i have to base it on this political cartoon which has to do with the pledge of allegiance. my problem is that my first paragraph talks about the Pledge and the 2nd talks about the cartoon, but the first supporting paragraph doesnt transition in to the next.

my professor says I should end the first supporting paragraph speaking about the politics that has to do with the separation of church and state but i know very little of that subject plus my argument supports the pledge. how i do that?

Farrell Kawamura
Miss V
ENG68
20 April 20009
To Pledge or Not To Pledge

Every morning throughout the country, tens of millions of children recite the Pledge of Allegiance after the first school bell rings. While most students will recite the pledge with others, some will choose not to and just stand there until it is over. There are also students who will not even stand up during the pledge for their own personal reasons, and they just remain seated, refusing to participate at all. These negative acts with children and parents has caused years of debates between law and politics. Although it has been a major tradition nationwide for many decades, some parents do not agree that children should be asked to recite the Pledge in schools because of religious reasons, and also because of the fact that it goes against their own personal freedom of choice to decide whether or not they should pledge. Furthermore, many children have little knowledge of the Pledge of Allegiance, nor do they appreciate or respect the importance of this morning ritual of having to pledge to a flag. Even though people have valid reasons for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, it should not only be a duty to recite the pledge but also people should feel privileged and honored to have the opportunity to do so. Too many Americans have fought and given up their lives for this country. For this reason, all the people of America, including children, should continue to recite the Pledge of Allegiance out of respect for their fellow Americans; parents should teach their children, as well as themselves, to appreciate where they come from and the true meaning behind the flag.

Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy, wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 for a children's magazine Youth's Companion. The following month more than 12 million school children recited the words for the first time across the nation during the Columbus Day celebration of when America was discovered; the Pledge of Allegiance was born. Since then, the Pledge has undergone several changes to avoid confusion for some people. For example, in 1923, the words "my Flag" changed to "the Flag of the United States;" in 1924, the words "of America" was added after "United States;" and then in 1954, the last change was made by adding the words "under God" after "one Nation." However, society felt concerned with this last change saying that the addition of these words is inappropriate for the people of our country. In Gwen Wilde's "Why the Pledge of Allegiance Should Be Revised," she states that "In my view, the addition of the words 'under God' is inappropriate, and they are needlessly divisive - an odd addition indeed to a Nation that is said to be 'indivisible' (p. 47)." But is it really inappropriate? Many people celebrate Christmas. Even people who are not Christians nor believe in any gods will still participate in the events of exchanging gifts for fun. Everyone respects one another in that sense and they will not participate in holiday events if it goes against their beliefs, hardly divisive. There is even a holiday to honor this day of Jesus' birth, but no one argues of the holiday that we should not have one because they do not believe in Jesus or any gods and such. Both believers and non-believers are equally as happy about the holiday, no arguments there. So why has it become an issue to recite a pledge when it is simply asking an individual to acknowledge and support what the flag symbolizes and come together as a nation in unity to uphold and carry on its symbolism in perseverance. Many people are drowning in endless debates but have forgotten the true purpose of the Pledge.

Political cartoons have been around since the 19th century. They were originally designed to attract readers with limited reading skills but still able to understand and relate to the message that the artist was trying to convey. Cartoonists use several techniques including humor, and certain symbols, to get the reader's attention and also to help them think more about politics. Gary Markstein, a popular cartoonist, created an interesting political cartoon regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. The image (p160) portrays four young children in a classroom, both boys and girls, supposedly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Three of the children's jaws are dropped open while the other child's mouth is open just a tiny bit. However, instead of happily reciting the proper words to the Pledge, Markstein has the unhappy looking children saying "...one Nation, under nothing, in particular..." written in a large speech balloon. The teacher is a lady with short hair, big nose, big lips, and thinking of the words "God help us..." The words are written in a speech balloon shaped as a cloud telling the reader that she is not actually saying those words. The apple which is on her desk has been a symbol in the teaching profession for many years. Next to the teacher, who has a droopy look on her face, is a tall flag wrapped around the pole, which tells the reader the sadness and disappointment of the flag concerning children for not so proudly reciting the Pledge in a proper manner. In Luke Saginaw's "Why Flag-Burning Should Not Be permitted" he states: "But the flag, perhaps because it has literally been carried into battle and has draped the coffins of fallen soldiers, is something richer in symbolism, richer in the emotional chords that it touches, than even the Constitution (p. 25)" While the children may think of the flag as just a piece of cloth, they do not realize the flag is something special; it is a symbol of freedom and who we are and where we come from. Many Americans have strong emotional ties with the Flag and would do anything to protect it, even die for it.

The Flag holds special meaning for many people. It is more than just a symbol; it is an important reminder of the people who have served this country and risked their lives for the greater good. Although many schools might teach their students the reasons behind the daily recital and what it has to do with the Flag, many do not. Most children will recite it as a daily routine, even though they have no clue why. However, many parents feel strongly against the Pledge of Allegiance because it not only goes against their own free will of pledging, but also they feel it is in violation of the First Amendment. The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." which many argue that it contradicts the Pledge of Allegiance by having to utter the words "under God" during the Pledge. When some people think of the word "God." they automatically think of some sort of spiritual being to worship or pray to. Although that might not be the case to some, it can be with others, and it becomes a problem when having to recite the Pledge. However, children cannot legally be forced to recite the pledge. Furthermore, parents still have a duty and a right to decide how a child should be raised. In Susan Jacoby's "A First Amendment Junkie" she states, "When I was a child, they did turn off the TV. They didn't expect the Federal Communications Commission to do their job for them (p. 44)." If parents aren't happy with their child reciting the Pledge then they should explain to him or her that they have the right not to recite it. Because in the end, it is up to the responsibility of the parent to decide how the child is raised. Children cannot raise themselves nor can parents expect any other person to raise their children for them.

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." These are the words to the Pledge of Allegiance and if someone prefers to stay quiet while others pledge then please do so. But children must learn to respect others and learn to appreciate the freedom of choice they have within American society compared to many other countries. Schools must not only continue to recite the Pledge, but also educate the children about the importance of the Pledge and define what the Pledge is about. As the Pledge continues every morning in every public school in the country, more and more children will become aware of the political world. When they are old enough, they will be prepared to vote and be proud that they have the opportunity to do so, unlike many other countries that do not. Pledging to the Flag is an honor and children should learn that the Flag is not just a piece of material; they should learn to respect it, and let it be a reminder as an appreciation of the freedoms they have that this country allows. Therefore, the next time that a child is asked to recite the pledge, even if one chooses to stay quiet, he or she can still stand and respect the Flag in the same manner as others as well. Because this time they not only will know what is going on, they will also know why; that when one pledges to the Flag, he or she is pledging their loyalty to not only the Flag, but also to this country as one nation which is inseparable as a whole, and where everyone is treated justly and fairly.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 31, 2009   #2
The separation of church and state essentially means that the government can't tell you what to believe, or what religion you practice. It has often been misinterpreted of late to mean that people have a right to avoid any mention of religion in the public sphere. Usually, these interpretations actually mean "Christianity" rather than religion in general, since the people advancing this interpretation don't seem to have a problem respecting religious pluralism, as long as it doesn't include Christianity in the mix. The reasons for this are extremely complex, and have a lot to do with the way political fault lines have developed in America. In this case, though, you only need to go with the original, correct meaning of the doctrine. So, is it wrong for the government to force students to pledge allegiance to a nation under god, if those students don't believe in any god? The easiest answer here would be "yes," especially since the words "under god" were added as part of an anti-communist movement in the Cold War that has no relevance today. However, if you want to answer "no," you can base your arguments on the importance of tradition and patriotism without too much trouble.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Apr 1, 2009   #3
Have you ever read "Civil Disobedience" by Thoreau? The most American thing in the world, the most democratic thing in the world, is to have CONTINGENT allegiance to your government. That means that you pledge no absolute allegiance, but instead scrutinize the government, hold it to a high standard, and, when it becomes corrupt, you dissolve it.

America was founded by rebels who would either give or withhold their allegiance -- depending on what the government was doing. So... I disagree with your argument! :)

But in response to your question:

You might want to try ending that first supporting paragraph with a sentence about how freedom of speech, one of the freedoms enjoyed by people protected by the government represented by the flag, is the same freedom that journalists and cartoonists use to poke fun at the government and scrutinize it. That will help your transition.
silverystars 14 / 105  
Apr 3, 2009   #4
Amazing, concerning Thoreau. I'll have to read "Civil Disobedience"!


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