Losing our freedoms, one law at a time

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
September 21, 2005

When I was in elementary school, mid-morning we would always have announcements. The principal or secretary would come over the speaker and give announcements, such as the lunch menu or if we were going to the high school pep rally that week. Then we'd all stand up, face the flag, and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

In either first or second grade, my teacher took it one step further and began teaching us the Star Spangled Banner by playing it on a tape recorder. We'd continue standing, facing the flag with our hands over our hearts, stumbling over the words. We did it every single day, and by the end of the year we knew our national anthem.

There was a feeling of patriotism instilled in each and every one of us. None of us really studied what we were saying; we never tried to make sense of it. The words and our actions, however, instilled in us a sense of pride and love for our country.

During the Gulf War, we'd follow the progress of what was happening by writing the daily news in a journal. We'd draw pictures and ask questions about the men and women serving our country over seas. We were proud of them. We supported them. We hoped they all came home safe, but we also believed in them and in what they had to do.

In history classes, we'd learn how our country started. How people came to this continent on boats over the seas, traveling for months at a time, in hopes of finding religious freedoms. We learned how through war, the men and women broke free of their rule by England. A country began; states formed. It was the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Today, we are the land of "there oughtta be a law" and "let's just take it to court."

The thing about making a new law every time someone gets their feelings hurt is that another freedom has been taken away. We inch away from the principles of freedom that this country was based upon, and we move towards a nation of only doing what we are told. We prove our lack of respect and common sense towards our fellow man by demanding the law step in and tell us what we can or can not do.

There are many issues in which this is necessary, yes. However, there are also many in which I feel the parties involved should be responsible and respectful enough to find a compromise on their own.

Namely, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court in which the Pledge of Allegiance has been deemed unconstitutional in schools due to the separation of church and state. The words "Under God" have been declared offensive to atheists and school children are not to say the pledge in school any more.

(Those words were added by Congress only 51 years ago, when in on June 14, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the addition saying, "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful weapon in peace and war.")

There was a time when a parent who felt it offensive would have met with the teachers and school administrators and hopefully found a common ground. Perhaps they could ask that the teacher not force the children to say the pledge. Give them the option to just not say those words, to not participate at all, or perhaps give them something else to do during that time.

Prayers at football games and in school at all was found unconstitutional years ago. It offended a few who chose to force their will upon everyone else, versus exercising their right to just not participate. Those wishing to pray lost the right to do so completely, whereas those wishing not to always had the right to not participate.

As we've had prayer in school taken away by a few and the Pledge of Allegiance taken away by one father, I wait for the day we have our nation's history taken out of schools as well. After all, it all started because of religion. Beyond that, perhaps we should no longer allow our currency to be used because it says "Trust in God."

With each law and declaration passed regarding what we are allowed to do or not do takes away people's rights and inches us away from the freedoms our ancestors fought to gain in our governmental system of democracy.

They came here because they wanted a choice. They fought hard and lives were lost to obtain that.

Our children no longer have a choice to pledge their allegiance to their country and to begin grasping what that means. How many more choices will we give up over time? And how many of those will we actually ask be taken away?
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