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Illustration by David Tran, 15, Warren HS (Downey)

Members of the staff of L.A.. Youth offered the following thoughts about being asked to say the Pledge of Allegiance in high school following the terrorist attacks.

"I believe that saying the Pledge of Allegiance is a way of reminding our country that no matter what happens we are united and that we stand for liberty and justice to all. Our school has said the Pledge of Allegiance once, so far, and it was one of the few morning announcements that my peers took seriously. I don’t think President Bush wants us to go join the army now, but he wants to remind us that we will be able to overcome this disaster as a whole nation that is working together."
—Lea Mouallem, 15, Marymount High School

"At my school, there have been no requests to recite it, but I wouldn’t mind. The students who do take offense in saying it do not have to. The pledge represents the liberties and freedom that we reside in. If teenagers do not believe on these natural rights, they can move to a place of their liking. As always, teens can have their own opinions on issues, but since nothing is forced upon them it is completely legitimate to have schools say the Pledge of Allegiance."
—Alex Pulst-Korenberg, 16, Harvard Westlake School

"I am not for the Pledge of Allegiance and I am not against the Pledge of Allegiance because I just say it so many times that it loses meaning. I say it every day at school in second period. It doesn’t mean anything anymore."
—Harry Chin, 15, Culver City High School

"I have been patriotic for as long as I can remember. This may be due to the constant images of valiant American soldiers rushing to the aid of helpless civilians, or the indoctrination of a public elementary school education full of skewed versions of history and forced repetitions of the Pledge of Allegiance. Since then, I have come to understand a more concrete definition of that freedom that the soldiers in the movies died for, and the presidents in the movies eloquently spoke about. And I remain patriotic. Despite it being forced down our throats, which is the choice of most nations that strive for unity, after having studied U.S. History and the foundations of our country, I have seen that, although the implementation is obviously still a work in progress, the ideals that we defend are truly noble and just.
    In keeping with this patriotism, I liked saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school, and I was disappointed when I found out that high school students are not required to say it. Now at the Hamilton Music Academy, they decided that we should say the Pledge of Allegiance last week in light of the recent terrorist attacks. As much as I wanted to say it, and as much as I feel for the mourners of the tragedy, I question the timing of the country to begin it again in response to the tragedy. If it is in an effort to produce war-ready citizens, it is disgracing the memory of those lost. Even if it is in memorial, I believe that those sacred foundations should be viewed alone, and that we should not muddle our sympathies with our ideals."
—Trevor Davis, 17, Hamilton HS

"My school made me say the P of A, and I said ‘whatever,’ and did it. But damn, it’s been so long since I’ve said it, I forgot the last line, ‘With liberty and justice for all.’ We said it during my school’s pep rally, which was the first time I did it since my 9th grade pep rally."
—Howard Hwang, 15, Marshall High School

"I’ll remember it as Friday’s pledge. Sitting in the front row facing the P.A. system, the co-principal’s voice suddenly interrupted my Spanish teacher’s lecture to inform us that at 11 a.m. each class should independently recite the Pledge of Allegiance in response to our country’s current situation. Mr. Bates then clarified that reciting the pledge was optional, which brought me a bit of relief. I chose not to stand up and put my right hand over my heart. As I sat there scanning the room, taking notice of the sparse array of my classmates who were still seated, I remained in silence contemplating the situation. I began to wonder why we were suddenly asked to recite the pledge when many of us stopped after elementary school graduation; as a prelude to a performance of ‘Ode to Joy’ with recorders. This was not an effort to express patriotism, or even in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the tragedy that struck the county on Sept. 11th, it was to rally support for the current crisis with Afghanistan. I do not consider myself a radical or an anarchist. I feel no overwhelming desire to take a stand against the ideology of this nation. However, I cannot support a nation that in this time of crisis looks outward for revenge instead of inward for peace. Perhaps we should concentrate on the issues that have plagued our nation since its establishment—prejudice, poverty and violence in urban ghettos, and apathy of those who can make a difference.
—Danny Maryanov, 16, Santa Monica High School

"The Pledge of Allegiance is another sign of country. It doesn’t matter what religion is represented as long as people have some respect for it. Personally, I omit the part about God but I still think we should be loyal to our country. A lot of us don’t know what we really have. In my school, we don’t say the pledge every morning – we just stand up and let the National Anthem ring through the silence. We said the Pledge of Allegiance on Sept. 12."
—David Tran, 15, Warren High School