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Phelan: People should be proud to say Pledge of Allegiance

Published: Thursday, July 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

If you haven’t noticed from my last couple of columns or my boost in happiness recently, I’m all graduated and out of school. Many of the things that I didn’t like about high school are blissfully in my past. But there’s a certain group of people from high school and a certain mentality that I don’t think I’ll ever shake from my mind. These people somehow thought that saying the Pledge of Allegiance was below them, and they refused to say the pledge. 

In school, we were asked to stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag near the beginning of every day. We stood up, recited the pledge and sat back down. It took about 20 seconds for the whole thing. And yet, in some classes, there would always be some people that would’t stand up and say it. Now, I understand anyone with any sort of disability being unable to stand. But even kids who couldn’t stand still recited the words. 

How someone in the United States of America could refuse to say our pledge baffles me.

There are two main reasons people refuse to say the pledge: church and state. The people who refuse for the purpose of church have one thing going for them. The phrase “under God” is their only argument against the pledge. They, due to religious or nonreligious beliefs, don’t want to say that part. Fine, then skip that part. Just say “one nation.” I know plenty of patriotic people with no religious affiliation who skip “under God.”

For the people who refuse under the idea of state, they are saying that they are not proud to be an American. Well, the fix for that is simple. Send these people to North Korea for a few months. Or China. Maybe even Romania. Libya. Guatemala. Mexico. Anywhere other than here, anywhere other than the land of the free. Even though our government has made mistakes in the past and is currently ensnared in scandals, the United States still is a great country, and I truly think people should be proud of that.  

Some people ask me why I have such strong opinions on this. I think that my answer comes from two things, both of which are rooted in my family.

My mother was born in Sheboygan, Wis., to a factory worker and a secretary. Mommy got into college, graduated with honors, began working and climbing the corporate ladder. She was a partner at Ernst & Young for five years, quitting in 1999 so that my sister and I could join the Girl Scouts. She now teaches at NIU, with a husband, two kids, two cats and a house in the suburbs. To me, my mother is the American dream. The country that allowed her to do these things, that supported her growth, is the one that I am proud of.

The other reason is the Armed Forces. Four members of my family have served in the military. Grandpa Phelan was in the Coast Guard in World War II; Grandpa Jerry was in the Army Reserves for 25 years; Uncle Dave was in the Navy; and my cousin Blaze was a Marine. I love these people. They knew the risks, and they still fought for us. They could have died. They watched friends fall and kept going. I for one cannot even imagine the dedication and sacrifice that requires. All for what? For a bunch of teenagers who are too lazy to stand up for 15 seconds and say they’re proud to be an American? 

Have a wonderful Independence Day, everyone.

• Courtney Phelan just graduated from Geneva High School. She can be contacted at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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