After the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, my school went full-on ‘makeshift patriot’ and jammed flags into every classroom, and somehow convinced the one student of arab descent out of ~2,500 mostly white kids to daily lead the entire school via intercom in the pledge of allegiance, which was typically followed up by the playing of a corny song like “God Bless the USA” or “God Bless America” or on rare occasions, the National Anthem (which I do NOT find to be corny).
So when it was time to stand and pledge to one nation under God, I remained seated. I didn’t attempt to disrupt by reciting the original, un-tampered with version, nor did I use the traditional Bellamy salute. I simply sat quietly and refused to participate.
A handful of my teachers questioned me about this, and were understanding of my explanation that I did not want to participate in a largely empty jingoistic ritual that was being used to cheer on a headlong rush into war as well as pledge allegiance to a nation under a non-existent magical being. They either left me alone or actively supported me when the more loud-mouthed students, many of whom had enlisted in the armed services in the weeks following the attacks, attempted to make it into a controversy.
However, most of my teachers openly harassed me over this. I was repeatedly sent to the principals’ offices, given a couple of after-school detentions (which I gave written refusal to attend), and was continually accused during class lesson time of being an atheist, a communist, an anti-patriot, and “providing aid and comfort to terrorists”. On a few occasions I walked out of class and sent *myself* to the principal’s office, explaining it was a means of escaping official harassment.
Bringing in printouts of relevant Supreme Court decisions had an impact on some of the teachers who were willing to listen to reasoned argument, but was largely ignored by most. Contacting the ACLU and getting *them* to send a letter to the school administration about the cost of settling an open-and-shut lawsuit sure helped.