AUSTIN - State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) filed House Bill 640 last week, in an effort to restore the Pledge of Allegiance to Texas public school classrooms.
Currently, there are no guidelines for public school districts establishing a procedure for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Some public schools conduct the Pledge at the beginning of the week; most, not at all. HB 640 would require every school day to begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, although students who do not wish to participate may be excused by a note from a parent.
“I am proud to file a bill that restores one of our nation’s most valued traditions to the classroom,” said Representative Bohac. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do for our veterans. It’s the right thing to do for our children, providing them with a valuable civic lesson. It’s hard to believe along the way we gave up this revered tradition.”
Colonel William B. "Bill" Gandin, a veteran of World War II and Korea and resident of District 138, supports the bill filed by Rep. Bohac. “This would justify, to a great measure, what we were fighting for, why we went to war, and why we were in the service. It is important to express our feelings of what this country means. We cannot overlook the benefit of our personal freedom.” Col. Gandin retired on August 27, 1975 with 33 years of service in the United States Army and U.S. Air Force.
Carolyn Jean Dodd, former teacher and principal of Garden Oaks Elementary in Houston ISD, also supports the recitation of the Pledge at the start of the school day. "As a teacher and principal of public school, I believe in reciting the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of each school day. It sets the scene for patriotic participation of children and instills pride in the fact that we are one nation who believes in liberty and justice." Mrs. Dodd taught school for 34 years.
The Pledge of Allegiance has a long and proud history in our public schools. First published in 1892 by the Boston based "The Youth's Companion" magazine, the early version of the pledge was written by Francis Bellamy for students to repeat on Columbus Day that year and was sent out to public schools across the country. On October 12, 1892, the quadricentennial of Columbus' arrival, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited by more than twelve million public school children in every state in the union, thus beginning a cherished school-day ritual.
The Pledge of Allegiance continued to be recited daily by children in schools across America. It still was an unofficial pledge until June 22, 1942 when the United States Congress included the Pledge to the Flag in the United States Code (Title 4). In 1945 the Pledge to the Flag received its official title as “The Pledge of Allegiance.”
HB 640, joint-authored by Representative Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands), Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving), Representative Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) and Representative Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs), would also create a moment of silence preceding the recitation of the Pledge. During this one-minute period, each student may, as the student chooses, reflect, meditate, read, pray, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student.
“Every student should be given the opportunity to begin their school day with a moment to reflect and a chance to show their support of the principals upon which America was founded,” continued Bohac. “This is a tradition that has been celebrated in this country for more than 110 years. We cannot allow our children to forget the high cost of freedom.”