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'Pledge' recited regularly in SCV schools

Local Commentary

Posted: April 6, 2008 2:32 a.m.
Updated: June 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
"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."

Thirty-one words, lasting about 15 seconds. ... This oath of loyalty to our country is recited at most public events. Congress opens its daily recitation with the pledge. The Santa Clarita City Council, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, both state Assembly and Senate, and all school boards in the Santa Clarita Valley commence each session with the pledge.

Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, and Fifth District Supervisor Michael Antonovich consider it their highest honor to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at their respective governing entities.

America-haters continue to despise that which America stands for. And what is that? Work hard, play by the rules, treat people with dignity and respect. In light of the recent outburst from Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, during which he spewed disgust for the United States, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the pledge, its history, and rededicate the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

History of the pledge
Contrary to popular belief, the pledge is not as old as the United States herself. Originally written by Baptist minister and educator Francis Bellamy, the pledge was published anonymously in a children's magazine in September 1892, in recognition of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America.

James Upham was the publisher of the magazine "The Youth's Companion" and is also credited with writing the original pledge of 23 words: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands one nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All."

In the 116 years since the pledge was first coined, there have been four changes. The latest was in 1954, occurring on Flag Day, June 14.

President Dwight Eisenhower approved adding the words "under God."

Over the course of the pledge's history, many have challenged it and continue to do so. That is any citizen's right, and I hope that never changes. No one can make anyone do something, even recite the pledge, if it doesn't come from the heart. Though no one is compelled to state the pledge, it is considered respectful to stand at attention quietly while the pledge is being recited.

Santa Clarita's take
California State Education Code 52720 requires every public elementary school to conduct an appropriate patriotic exercise each day during the school year, at the beginning of every regularly scheduled class or activity period. The reciting of the pledge satisfies that requirement.

In secondary schools, the pledge satisfies state requirements, but other patriotic exercises may also suffice.

I am pleased to tell you all school districts within the Santa Clarita Valley adhere to state education code. In my polling of all the districts, administrative staff as well as school board members were justifiably concerned about my agenda in writing this commentary. I reassured any who asked me that I have no agenda. I simply wanted to know how each of the boards of education addressed the education code requirement and asked for candid answers. I got them.

Trustee Steve Tannehill enthusiastically reported that not only is the pledge recited daily at all Newhall School District campuses, but many other patriotic exercises are conducted as well. One is a play Steve's son participated in entitled "Miracle at Philadelphia," where students took the roles of various founding fathers at the Constitutional Convention.

Great work! I congratulate the Newhall School District and Superintendent Marc Winger. Sulphur Springs, Castaic, and Saugus districts are similarly doing a great job. I applaud those efforts because these districts are raising our leaders to show respect and high esteem for the United States of America.

The William S. Hart Union High School District is also doing a good job. I asked Superintendent Jaime Castellanos to poll his principals and ask them to report adherence to the education code requirement.
Here are the results of that polling: Arroyo Seco, La Mesa, Placerita, Rancho, Rio Norte, and Sierra Vista middle schools conduct a standing Pledge of Allegiance each morning, either via video monitor or live in the class.

Canyon, Golden Valley, Hart, Saugus, Valencia, West Ranch and Bowman high schools all conduct a daily pledge via closed-circuit TV.

I ask all parents to support the pledge, encourage your children to know the pledge, embrace it, and help build our country. Whether you are a citizen or an immigrant, display appropriate respect for our flag. Model that behavior to your children.

Roger Gitlin is a Santa Clarita resident and teacher. He can be reached at ragitlin@ aol.com. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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