As a substitute teacher, I get to visit many different classrooms in many different schools. In many of these schools the students are given the “opportunity” to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day, usually at a designated time announced over the intercom. This gives me the chance to observe what children of many ages do when reciting the Pledge. Most stand; most put their hand over their heart – until you get to middle school and then the hand starts to sink lower and lower, until, in high school, it is much closer to the top of their chair. Most say the Pledge. Some just mumble in the correct rhythm.
I think reciting the pledge every day actually leads to complete disregard of its meaning. I am pretty sure that most of the younger students have NO IDEA what they are saying or why. And the older ones, who should have a clue, just mumble so that they appear to be patriotic, but they are really not thinking about it at all.
Yes, they do learn the words. But I much prefer mindfulness in this regard. If you are going to say the Pledge, you need to say it in circumstances where you are actually thinking about what you are saying. It is much like the idea of praying for me. If it isn’t done mindfully, it isn’t worth the time spent.
I stand, but I don’t say the Pledge. I don’t say it, in order to respect those people whose beliefs don’t allow them to say it. I don’t say it, because my mind is actually elsewhere, making sure the students are being respectful. I don’t say it, because I don’t accept the inclusion of the “Under God” clause.
On the other hand, I love singing the national anthem. Part of that is because I like to sing, but part of it is because I do so rarely enough that I can really think about what it means.