When Waukesha students head back to the classroom in just a few weeks, they'll start each day with the Pledge of Allegiance — a tradition that goes back generations.
In Wisconsin, as is the case with most states, classrooms in public schools are required to offer the pledge or the National Anthem daily, but students are not required to actually stand up and recite it. Most do, of course, but some students object to the phrase "Under God" and refuse to take part in the daily routine.
Students are required to say the pledge, but should they be? Patch posed the question to users over the last few days and received a flurry of feedback.
"I think it would be fine as long as the one nation under 'God' is removed and put back to it's original glory without the republican propaganda added," Tony Johnson posted on the Waukesha Patch Facebook page.
"In god we trust is on every piece of currency we have," Toya Schuenke wrote. "Grow up. If you don't want your kids to say the pledge, tell them not to. Let the ones who want to, be able to do so with pride in our nation."
The issue has surfaced nationally. Earlier this year, a state lawmaker in Arizona introduced a bill to require students to recite the pledge. Other states, including Oregon and Nebraska, have had discussions on whether to require the pledge to be recited in schools.
For three decades, the pledge read as it does today, without the controversial phrase, “Under God.” But in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pushed for Congress to add the phrase to combat communist threats, leaving Americans with the 31-words we have today:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
So, should students be required to recite it?
"Alright. I'm an honest, loving, woman. I am all for all religions having whatever their beliefs are. I pass no judgment on anyone for not believing in God," Tonya Schuenke wrote. "BUT for those of you who are atheist and complaining about the use of the word "God", stop using American Money. And stop your whining."
"Why are so many of us here?" Shannon Majewski asked. "Our forefathers fought for religious freedom. I have no issue with anyone's beliefs, but I think it is a matter of integrity for us to acknowledge and respect our foundation. Believe as you may, but pledge to the country, and to the integrity of freedom. Stay silent during the portion referencing God if you haven't a God to acknowledge. We are a team of people who want to be Americans. We need to remember not to lose that simple justness as a people. We are Americans, in the end, undivided. It is meant as a pledge and a mantra."
And others also feel a strong sense of patriotism, but question if blindly citing words without proper understanding is doing any good.
"Isn't this United States of America?" Beth Treder asked on the Waukesha Patch Facebook page. "People fought and died for our freedom. Then yes, kids should. I teach my kids exactly why they should and what it means. Should they also shake a veterans hand and thank them, while kindly giving a donation as they stand by the red kettle outside a store? Yes. My kids do and have made veterans who are stoic and proud cry with humble gratitude. And as these kids honor their country, speak the Pledge in English. This is America. Teach your kids honor and gratitude for those that have served, and continue to do so."
"My son just told me they do it every Wednesday but sometimes when they are required to stand, not all kids are actually reciting or holding hand to chest and that sometimes he doesn't actually say it," Nicole Damico wrote.
“Only the discussion of abortion gets more emotive attention; but the role of religion in our schools and classrooms has been a sure fire prescription for heated conflict,” Ruble wrote.And those comments ran the same lines we see eight months later – strong patriotism as well as a desire for separation of church and state.
“But where does it end? There are so many religions and denominations At what point does the gov. say, "Enough - there aren't enough hours in the day or room in the yard for all of this," FreeThoughtTroy wrote.
"Let's all pretend that religion does not exist, that is the way to educate our children about tolerance," Patch reader, Greg, commented. "I could walk into any school and find or hear 10 things that I could say offend me. It is time to tell the eternally offended to get bent. Grow up, suck it up and be a good example."
"We cannot deny our heritage that this country was founded by people who mostly believe in a God --- although many Christians are wrong to think that it was founded as a Christian society, as most of the Founders seem to have been Deists. God is a generic word -- and it can have many meanings. The only people who can object to even this generic term would be Atheists, who insist there is No God, in any way, shape or form..." reader David Tatarowicz posted.