East students speak up regarding football player Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the National Anthem

Samantha Roehl

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A few East students, in support of Kaepernicks decision, have remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.

A few East students, in support of Kaepernick’s decision, have remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.

I felt this was disrespectful [but] that does not make it bad… as American citizens [they] have the right to decide that the current state that the flag represents is not worth respecting

— Henry Nolan ('19)

At the start of every school day, the pledge of allegiance is played over the loudspeaker at Cherry Hill East. However, according to a recent survey, over 50 percent of Cherry Hill East students do not say the pledge of allegiance.

The survey was conducted from October 2 to October 5 in various classes throughout the building. Of the ninety students surveyed, forty-three were in the sophomore class, sixteen were in the junior class, eight were in the senior class, four were in the freshman class, and seventeen did not disclose their grade level. Additionally, nine students identified as democrats, nine as independents, four as republicans, three as “liberals,” one as “moderate,” one as “centrist,” with fifty-seven students declining to disclose their political affiliation.

The debate about protesting the flag was sparked on August 26, 2016 when football player Colin Kaepernick made the news when he sat during the National Anthem to protest the oppression of minorities in America. He told reporters that “when there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.” After a few games, he transitioned from sitting to kneeling, and the phrase “taking a knee” became part of America’s vernacular.

Some view taking a knee as a peaceful protest that is both allowed and patriotic.

“[Taking a knee] is a protest against the injustice the government has caused to people, especially minorities,” wrote Jerin Ria (‘20).

Others, however, believe that protesting during the national anthem or pledge of allegiance is anti-American.

“[Athletes are] disrespecting the military and the country,” wrote Matt Randall (‘20).

Over twenty eight percent of the students thought that athletes taking a knee is respectful, nineteen percent thought that it is disrespectful, and another forty six percent were unsure.

Of the 17 students that said kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful, 71 percent say the pledge a majority of the time, and of the 26 that said kneeling is respectful, 42 percent say the pledge a majority of the time.

A few students at Cherry Hill East have begun sitting down during the pledge, either in protest or in solidarity for Kaepernick and other athletes. Around nine percent of students said they sat down during the pledge, but over sixty one percent of students reported having seen peers sit down during the pledge.

Some students are not in favor of students sitting during the pledge.

“[Standing] is part of the responsibilities of being an American citizen… respecting your country,” wrote Jacob Bloom (‘20).

Others believe that sitting is an assault on the values of the both America and the flag.

“Sitting down symbolizes how they don’t believe in unity, justice, or freedom,” wrote Jessica Lam (‘20).

Other students are more supportive of their sitting peers. Or simply believe it is within their peers’ rights.

“They have the right to free expression, which is super important,” wrote Dylan Harding (‘18).

Some students believe that not only is it allowed but it is also important to illustrate the message that students are trying to send.

“If they religiously or morally cannot say [the pledge], they shouldn’t have to,” wrote Elana Kaufler (‘19).

However, even though sixty one percent of students have seen a peer sit down during the pledge at school, only fifty four percent believe that students are allowed to sit during the pledge. In fact, the supreme court ruled in 1943 that students could not be forced to salute the flag.

For some students, there is a dichotomy in their beliefs.

“I felt this was disrespectful [but] that does not make it bad… as American citizens [they] have the right to decide that the current state that the flag represents is not worth respecting,” wrote Henry Nolan (‘19).

Students are the future of America. Soon, they will have a say in the government and society of America on a broader spectrum than class elections. To some, that means showing current and future America the utmost respect, whatever that means to them personally. But to others, it means standing up (or sitting down) for what they believe in.