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The controversy of kneeling to the pledge of allegiance

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The controversy of kneeling to the pledge of allegiance

ROTC students holding flags during Harding's pepfest.

ROTC students holding flags during Harding's pepfest.

Tony Vue

ROTC students holding flags during Harding's pepfest.

Tony Vue

Tony Vue

ROTC students holding flags during Harding's pepfest.

Jacqueline Martinez, Reporter

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Students in Mr. Trepanier’s class shared their opinions about the pledge in two recent Wednesday discussions. The pledge has caused controversy in recent years, due to football player Colin Kaepernick taking taking a knee during the anthem. Beginning with Harding’s Pepfest of 2016, this controversy has been seeping into classrooms.

Grismaldys Rodriquez was one student who spoke her mind, explaining that discrimination against people in the United States is her reason for not standing up for the pledge. Grismaldys said that she relates to Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who has taken a knee when the national anthem played during a game, “because of [her] culture and [her] ethnicity.”

Freshman Haidyn Battle took a different position. “I stood today because even though I am African American, and [have] seen people who look like me and are disrespected in the world, I still am an American,” she said. “What people did before, they stood up for themselves. I want people to do that, but I don’t want it to be so far that people riot about it and get the police involved. I want people to hold their heads up and not wear their emotions on their sleeves.”

Sr. Chief Rick Bailey, a teacher in Harding’s NJROTC program, said students in the program will most likely stand up when the pledge comes on because the classroom is a patriotic class, however “no student is required to stand,” he said. “If they choose not to, it’s okay.”

Harding’s principal, Doug Revsbeck, said he heard that the pledge was something that came on after the crisis on Sept. 11, 2001. “I believe that it was something that was brought into schools and has been a choice to participate.”

Jennifer Funkhouser, a French and reading teacher, offered her opinions, saying that she did not grow up reciting the pledge because she didn’t live here; instead she lived in France. “I don’t have emotional attachment to the pledge or any kind of historical ritual around it,” she said.

Students like Gustavo Ibarra and Meng Yang (P.C.)  also pointed out that during other first hour classes last semester, students usually didn’t stand up or speak at all. Ms. Funkhouser said her advisory students hadn’t either because she believes “that they don’t feel strongly one way or the other, it’s just something they wish to do.”

One person, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she was conflicted. “The words are beautiful, the conflict for me personally [is that] I don’t feel like it reflects historically or currently for all living in the country,” she said, “I think there is space for good conversation about it and hope at Harding we can have dialogue about it without losing respect to each other or our country and feelings,” she said.

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The controversy of kneeling to the pledge of allegiance