When you coached at our high school, you were not assigned a homeroom, so in 1986 after retiring from head football coach, it was SOP that I was assigned an 11th-grade homeroom for the first time in 10 years. On the first day of school, usually the first activity of the day was standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance! The TV presented the American Flag, and I stood and started the Pledge. Halfway through, I was startled by the silence and more shocked that no one stood up.
I thought I had to be missing something, so after homeroom, I charged down to the principal’s office to inquire about what was going on.
Principal Johnson Harmon explained that the students did not have to say the Pledge; however, our school’s policy was that we did stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
I could not accept the fact that the students did not have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag.
So the next day in homeroom, I was determined to at least make sure they heard the Pledge. I pulled a chair over, stood on the chair, and recited the Pledge with my hand over my heart in a very loud voice, with passion and pride from beginning to end. When I finished, I required that the students follow school policy and stand.
I did this every day during the school year. Some students stood freely, some stood leaning against their desk, some mumbled the Pledge, but no one repeated the Pledge loudly or clearly enough to be heard!
One day in the following spring of the school year, I just happened to be a little late for homeroom. The Pledge was being recited on the TV. When I reached the doorway of room 201, to my amazement the entire 25 students were standing freely, hands over their hearts, and reciting the Pledge with feeling and passion. I walked into the room and joined them to the finish.
Not a word was said about their passionate recitation of the Pledge; however, the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance the very same way every day for the remainder of the school year.
The following year, while in the lunch line, a colleague asked why Nate says the Pledge Of Allegiance so loudly and with passion. I replied with a smile, “I do not know.”
Five years later, while supervising the hall during homeroom period, I noticed a freshman young lady in her homeroom reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with a big, powerful, proud, passionate voice–the only student in the room doing so. After the period, I asked her why she was reciting the Pledge as she did , and her response was, “My older brother told me about his homeroom.”
God bless America!