GREENSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — Greensburg Community High School won’t claim it, but Friday morning the school earned the right to call itself the most patriotic place in Indiana.
For about two hours, one person after another stepped onto the stage in the school’s auditorium and recited The Pledge of Allegiance.
“It’s wonderful,” said World War II veteran Bill Smith, one of the reciters.
This was the first year for The Pledge of Allegiance Project at GCHS. John Pratt, U.S. History teacher, said it was inspired by two things — a feeling that students may be respectful of the words in the pledge but lack a passion for them, and, Pratt said, “while doing my research, I stumbled across the fact that, in 1954, President Eisenhower added the words “under God” to The Pledge of Allegiance.”
The 60th anniversary of the pledge provided Pratt the opportunity to impress the students with the message and the history of a long-gone era. When “under God” was added, Pratt said we must remember the fervor of the 50s, “the Communist Cold War Threat. Countries like the Soviet Union were atheists. So that’s where the thought process came in.”
The phrase has survived Supreme Court challenges. But, Pratt predicts that part of the pledge will be challenged again, someday.
Greensburg Junior Sierra Vail said preparing the program gave her a new appreciation for the pledge and the respect it shows for the USA.
The Pledge Project attracted guest reciters from among local veterans to entertainers, Olympic athletes and politicians as prominent as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. 24-Hour News 8’s Eric Halvorson was also proud to participate.
“What I hope that students get,” Pratt said later, “is what I received which was a renewed feeling of patriotism. It’s the type of thing where it’s tough to do that, if we’re not at war.”
Pratt hopes listening to the pledge today and reciting it themselves as a group “will be in the back of their minds when they say the pledge for the next 50, 60, 70 years, if they’re here.”