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Globe Editorial

The Pledge: Learning to live with a compromise

September 9, 2011

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Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before school is, for many people, a proudly ingrained expression of patriotism, like standing for the national anthem before sporting events. To a relatively small number of others, it’s a distasteful loyalty oath, offensive to their concept of civil liberties. There is a long and, by now, tired debate about whether public-school students should recite the Pledge, and it’s ended in a respectful compromise: The Pledge can be recited, but only voluntarily.

Brookline schools have enacted a mild version of the compromise, setting aside weekly time for the Pledge during morning announcements. Participation is strictly voluntary. But that’s still too coercive for members of a group called Brookline PAX, which is pushing a town-meeting resolution against the policy.

They are, no doubt, well-meaning citizens, concerned about kids who might feel ostracized if they don’t say the Pledge. But also well-meaning are those who value a patriotic tradition, and bridle at what they see as attempts to end it for largely abstract reasons. Both sides have merit, which is why the compromise in place right now is so eminently reasonable. It should stand.