As a veteran, I feel compelled to respond to recent adrenalin-fueled letters asserting that three students at South Portland High School were somehow being disrespectful of veterans by informing other students of their constitutional right to act in accordance with their beliefs and choose whether or not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This right was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the middle of World War II.

The Pledge of Allegiance is more than a pledge; it includes statements of belief.

The words “under God,” added in 1954, state a religious belief held by a majority of Americans but not all of us.

The statement that there is “liberty and justice for all” is clearly a false belief, as anyone who is honest about this country’s history would concede. Students should be taught to respect the truth and not be pressured to state a belief that is at best a half-truth.

I personally “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands” but refuse to say the problematic words that follow. The status of the Pledge of Allegiance as a untouchable icon is unfortunate.

I am comfortable with the oath I affirmed when I was inducted into the Army during the Korean War. I deny that I am being disrespectful of other veterans.

This military oath varies only slightly from the presidential oath in the Constitution, which states: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I … will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Regularly instructing students on the values enshrined in the Constitution and encouraging students to state the words of this oath rather than recite the Pledge of Allegiance would teach them about what our country truly stands for.

Meredith N. Springer