We live in a time in which the protection of our very values and freedoms are defended by brave men and women who volunteer to make the ultimate sacrifice; risking their life and limb to defend our great nation. These brave men and women carry with them an American spirit that inspires us all to do everything we can to help protect and preserve the values, freedoms, and traditions that they risk their lives to promote.
Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools gives our youth a daily chance to pause and reflect upon the opportunities they have received through the past and present sacrifice of those brave men and women. The Pledge of Allegiance reminds us that we seek justice before the law, equality among our peers, and a collective sense of unity which bridges our diverse interests.
The Pledge of Allegiance is not, nor should it be, merely an exercise in affirming one’s commitment to all of the values espoused in it. We recognize that our heterogeneous society is an asset in the continuous pursuit of liberty and justice. That is why we recognize the rights of those who choose not to observe the pledge, and in no way should they be persecuted or singled-out for ridicule or scorn, for they are exercising a right afforded to them. However, I stand committed to making the recital of the Pledge a daily practice in our schools because it is a positive tradition for our children, and a constant reminder of the ideals and values upon which our great country and the American Dream are founded.
The promotion and routine practice of the Pledge of Allegiance must be upheld in our public schools as it is required by state and federal law, and it is an essential part to our children’s sense of community and purpose. Recently, I was disheartened to learn that certain schools throughout New York City have failed to keep up with the practice. I hope that the contribution of my voice, along with the many others that have supported the practice, will help remind schools of their responsibility to teach students about the history of the flag and the importance of honoring the valiant veterans who helped preserve the American Dream.
William Colton is an assemblymember representing Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and Midwood.