By: Willow Dalehite
Every morning across the United States, students stand with their right hands over their hearts to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and those in Texas also state the Texas Pledge. Although every student knows the pledges, some choose to remain seated and/or silent.
During the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Youth and Government State Competition in Austin, Ezra Morales, a Media YG delegate from the Ann Richards Delegation, did not say the pledges.
“I believe in peaceful resistance and standing up for what I believe in, and I do not currently believe in what the President of the United States believes in. That is one thing that I feel that I really can’t stand up for, because it’s not one state under God, indivisible, and it’s not united we stand, because right now, currently, the country is divided by hate.”
However, the pledge rang loud and clear during the ceremony as other delegates recited the often-said words.
“I say it to show respect for my country and my state.” Jeanne Clark, a Legislative delegate, said. “People deserve to be treated with equal liberty and justice.”
Lydia Derksen, a delegate from Houston, said she says the pledges because “I’m proud to be an American and a Texan.” However, despite saying that the most important part of the pledge to her is “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all”, she does not believe that everybody currently has liberty or justice.
Other delegates described the pledges in terms of government and the structure of our country, offering a different perspective.
Although Bret Johnson, another delegate, said the pledges “because it is respectful”, he did not feel that any aspect of the pledges resonated with him. “I feel like the United States pledge is said out of formality and that is okay, but I do not feel the Texas pledge should be said or has a reason to be said (…) We live inside the United States of America which should be a united nation, not one split apart into states that are so egotistical that we should say the pledge to the flag everyday.”
Social and political reasons motivate delegates in their decision whether or not to say the pledge, and many attempt to remain respectful to the country while staying true to their beliefs.
“I stood out of respect because we are at a conference that has to do with government affairs, but usually while I’m at school I sit for the pledge.” stated Bri Branscomb, a Leander delegate who did not say either pledge. “Blind pride and nationalism has really created a problem where you’re willing to overlook the needs of many over the needs of a few, and willing to ignore a lot of social issues that need to be addressed. I don’t pledge my allegiance to a flag, I pledge allegiance to a country and that’s where my priority is going to stand.”