Must We Stand and Salute?

Ria Balli, Contributing Writer

No football game, pep rally, or public gathering is complete without the salute to our American flag. Our respect is shown through a tall poise with a proud right hand resting right above our hearts. However, a question remains: do we really have to stand?

This has been a controversial topic recently.  Regarding the national anthem in particular, there have been disputes about whether high school athletes should be allowed to kneel while it’s played. A 49ers NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, kneeled during a silent protest at a football game last season, inspiring some high school athletes all over America to do the same. Janet Bamford, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Schools Board Association said that no law “specifically addresses… kneeling during a football game.”

Concern about requiring students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance has also been voiced. Religion plays a considerable role in this, not only for athletes, but for other students too. The reference to and advocated trust in God is the issue.  Although it’s not included in the National Anthem version sung today, the last stanza of the National Anthem contains the phrase “In God we trust,” and the Pledge of Allegiance uses the phrase “Under God”. According to CNN, in 2010, a parent filed a lawsuit in California seeking to remove this phrase from the Pledge, but lost the case because the court said the Pledge does not “represent a government endorsement of religion.” Not much action on this topic has occurred in recent times. The last stanza in the National Anthem is not mentioned in the usual recitation, so it does not pose as a problem to many people in terms of religion.

Laws delineating requirements when reciting the National Anthem – or the Pledge of Allegiance – do not force a student to stand, kneel, or perform any other physical stance.  As the Anthem says, this is the “land of the free”; however, doing so is a sign of respect.