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Letters to the editor 9/26

September 26, 2002

A minor worry



To the editor:


I have defended the right of individual school children to obey their parents' request that they not salute the flag of their country. Now, however, the issue is, "Will American school children and Americans in general be forbidden to publicly pledge allegiance to the flag of their country? " That is a very different issue.

Tell Americans that they are not allowed to publicly pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States? One might as well tell them they are not allowed to breathe in public. Laws prohibiting public pledging would be about as effective as laws prohibiting public breathing. We have only one country and citizenship requires loyalty to the governmental forms of this country.

Ours is a country in which people give allegiance to our united country while giving allegiance to many different gods or even no gods. Being all citizens of the same country makes it easy to support a pledge that helps to unite us. A pledge that unites us in spite of the many differing beliefs about how our republican form of democracy can work on solving the many problems this or any country must attempt to solve. In contrast, because we are members of one country and many different religions, required public prayers are not appropriate in the ways that public pledges are.

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The pledge will not be banned from our society. The pledge will continue to remind us of the lesson learned in the Civil War. This is one nation. The pledge will continue to remind us of the lessons learned in the '30s. This is a republican form of democracy and those who would try to let it be taken over by communism or fascism are traitors to the pledge and to their country. The pledge will continue to remind us of our national goal, "liberty and justice for all."

The pledge will not be banned from our society. What legislative body at any level could find a majority in favor of punishing people for saying the pledge? What law enforcement official could be found to arrest decorated veterans who were publicly pledging allegiance to the flag?

In this world there are many things to worry about. We do not need to worry about whether or not we and our children will be allowed to continue to voluntarily pledge allegiance to our flag and to the republic for which it stands. We and our children will continue to be free to pledge our allegiance to our country and our form of government even as we continue to argue, through our political parties, about how best to achieve liberty and justice for all.

Russell Williams

Hagerstown




Anger over pledge decision



To the editor:


There is a lot of anger over the decision by a federal court in California declaring the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag unconstitutional in public schools because of the words "under God." The case was brought by an atheist who didn't want his children exposed to a profession of religious belief in public school.

America has a long history of minority rights, but also of majority rule. Atheists, those with no religious belief, are a minority in America. Most Americans are people of faith. We are a nation of people who believe in God and use our First Amendment freedom of expression to acknowledge our nation's dependence on God's providence.

If most Americans want a profession of our nation's dependence on God's providence in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, then that's how it should be, even in public schools. The minority has rights, but the majority rules.

I understand that no one forced the atheist children to say the Pledge of Allegiance, with or without the words, "under God." They had the option of saying the pledge but not saying, "under God." They also had the option, which most of them took, of just sitting quietly while the other children recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

No one singled them out because they chose not to say, "under God," or because they chose to sit quietly while the other children said the Pledge of Allegiance. Those who chose to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag respected the rights of those who chose not to say it.

We also have a long history in American of, "I respect your rights, feelings, and beliefs, you in turn respect mine," and it works both ways.

But no longer. Our attitude now seems to be, "You respect my rights, feelings, and beliefs. I don't care about yours." That attitude won't work.

What better civics lesson could those children in California have had than the one they were already getting? A lesson that says minority rights but majority rule. A lesson that says, "I respect your rights, feelings, and beliefs, you respect mine."

Raymond E. Scott II

Zullinger, Pa.

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