The Times' had this article about 3 eighth grade students in small-town Minnesota who got suspended for not standing up for the pledge of allegiance. It was in the district's handbook of rules but the ACLU wisely let them know that it's unconstitutional to make anyone stand.
It makes me wonder what we are teaching kids about what patriotism means. Pre-9/11, patriotism and being a hero had, to me, more clearly defined parameters. Post-9/11 it is much more murky and woe be to any politician, in particular, who doesn't toe the patriotism police line.
Obama is just raked across the coals because he doesn't wear a flag pin. People said, in a NY Times article a couple of weeks ago, that they couldn't vote for him because of it. (Naturally, I know there's more to it but somehow that's the best argument they could make.) All I can say is that if you define patriotism by wearing a lapel pin, that's not saying much.
My family, along with other families at Roosevelt, is hosting an Italian exchange student for 10 days. We're going to a Mariners game and sure enough, we'll all be standing for the national anthem. Just to be clear, in most countries, people don't even know the words to their national anthem, no less play it at major sporting events. I fully expect our guests to do the "when in Rome" thing (terrible pun, I'm sorry) at the game but it makes me ponder; what do we tell our kids?
Is every cop a hero? Is every soldier? Is there a difference between being disrespectful of the pledge/national anthem versus being unpatriotic? Is being a good citizen by voting, recycling, caring about your school and community enough? Or do you need to wear your flag on your sleeve? What do you tell your kids?
(Before anyone gets too upset, my father and 3 of his brothers were all in active duty in WWII - at the same time. On my mom's side? Her cousin died in the Bataan death march. I understand service to one's country and respect it.)