The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance under the microscope

A law was recently upheld in Nebraska establishing a mandatory period during the school day which will be devoted to reciting the United States of America's pledge of allegiance.

Students are provided the option to abstain from actively participating. However, they must observe the mandatory pledge period in silence. Is this obligatory recital a benign form of collective patriotism or is it representative of state-sanctioned paramilitary propaganda on line with the Young Pioneers of the former USSR?

When we consider the litany of American patriotic symbolism, there are some unavoidable icons in that arsenal. Symbols like the affable Uncle Sam with his red white and blue tuxedo with tails and a stovepipe hat are emblematic of America throughout the world. The Statue of Liberty stands as an anchor to the American ideology of hope and fortune. As witnessed at the Olympic Games recently in London, the American flag and corresponding national anthem help to define the elusive concept of Americanism.