Letters To The Editor


December 06, 2005

Standing for Pledge is a sign of respect

As a public school educator for many years, I can't remember ever feeling the need to force my students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. And I agree with Michael Olesker that the teacher who demanded that a student recite the Pledge was out of line ("Standing up for the right to stay seated," Dec. 2).

I did, however, expect my students to stand when the bell signaling the beginning of morning announcements sounded.

With that practice in place, all students were quiet and ready for the Pledge to the flag. I encouraged, and expected, a quiet and respectful atmosphere while the flag was saluted.

Should students be forced to recite the Pledge or be embarrassed in front of their peers if they choose not to? No.

But should all students be taught to be respectful in these situations? Yes.

I've never attended an Olympic sporting event, but I would certainly stand while the national anthem of any team is played. And while I am not a member of the Jewish faith, I've attended many Jewish services and, out of respect, worn a yarmulke each time.

During my days in the classroom, I never would have led my students in a prayer, and I certainly wouldn't have stopped a student from praying before a spelling test.

My students were never forced to say the Pledge to the flag. But I don't think I violated their rights by asking them to stand.

That is a matter of simple respect that Mr. Olesker has confused with civil liberty and the right to disagree.

Paul J. Norfolk


Avow allegiance to our lofty ideals

If any good can come from the students who refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance, let it be to clear our heads ("Standing up for the right to stay seated," Dec. 2).

Politics is so heated that we blur our understanding of the Pledge. But it has always been my understanding that the Pledge that we said as schoolchildren, and should say more often as adults, is a pledge to our national flag and the republic and the Constitution that it represents.

It is an oath of allegiance to the most perfect Constitution ever developed - a blueprint of the ideal.

It is not a pledge to the flawed and very human men and women who serve in government in an effort to carry out that Constitution.

We have the freedom to criticize these political figures. We must see, however, the irony in attacking the very Constitution that provides this freedom.

If it is the reference to God that offends, hold your tongue at the line.

Criticize the politicians as is necessary. But proudly and boldly utter your Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and the republic.

Peter R. Fenwick


BWI should enforce sterner standards

Lowering the United States' airport security standards is a step in the wrong direction ("Searches at airports to be more random," Dec. 3). Small sharp objects such as scissors can be used as weapons, just as easily as the box-cutters were on Sept. 11, 2001.

While it is true that security measures have been put into place to make conventional methods of taking over a plane more difficult, that does not mean it cannot still be done, especially if such sharp objects are allowed back onto planes.

I challenge the newly renamed Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to be just as revolutionary in its approach to security as Justice Marshall was in civil rights.

Instead of blindly following along with the other airports in the United States, it should enforce the stricter guidelines that have been in place up until these recent changes, and set a higher standard for airport security.

Christina L. Moyer


Curb the pollution from power plants

Maryland's outdated power plants remain among the largest sources of in-state pollution that triggers respiratory problems and even premature human deaths. The government needs to make industry take action to prevent our children from getting asthma.

The technology is available and affordable to make power plants much cleaner. It's past time for Maryland to take action to make this happen.

Power plant pollution degrades scenic views, undermines businesses that market our scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, and makes Maryland a less attractive place to live and visit.

Stop studying the problem and act now.

Nick Nichols


The `land industry' takes terrible toll

I applaud Tom Horton's column regarding various aspects of the "land industry" or "growth machine" ("State's thirst for growth will take toll on environment," Nov. 29).

In addition to the particular interest groups and related industries (i.e., real estate agents, developers, etc.) that oil this machine, let us emphasize the role of those elected officials who have allowed our campaign finance laws to be lax enough to allow "growth machine" members to circumvent the intent of the campaign finance limits and gain more access than they ought to enjoy.

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