LTE from City Council Candidate, Marolee Smith

Letter to the Editor

Marloee Smith, Candidate for Port Angeles City Council

I would like to clarify why I do not speak the words to the pledge, although I do stand, respectfully.  When I was in my early years of grade school I had a friend. Her religion forbade her from uttering the pledge. She was ridiculed for not doing so by the teacher and most of the class. It upset her greatly, as she was trying to be both true to her religion, and be like the rest of us.  In solidarity, I stopped repeating the pledge and stood silently next to her.


She was my friend, and what part of “freedom” involves being forced to say a poem? Why didn’t she have the freedom to remain silent? It made no sense to my young mind.


I was sent to the principal’s office for this.  I was told that if I did not “say it” I would be expelled.  I was standing up for what I believed was right, for HER freedom of religion. The school district sided with me.


In fact, in 1943 (two decades before) the Supreme Court (Justice Robert H. Jackson) wrote: “To believe patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions.”


Mark Twain said that reciting a patriotic pledge was treason. He said it was equivalent to saying, “my country, right or wrong” which he considered to be the worst form of treason.  He said “it is betraying our responsibility to speak out when we think our country is making a mistake”.


The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy (who also invented the “Bellamy salute”, later adopted by the Nazi’s) for a one time use to promote the sale of flags to schools, in 1892. It was written for the 400th anniversary of Columbus landing in the Bahamas. He sold hundreds of flags. It wasn’t adopted as a classroom ritual for more than 30 years, to help indoctrinate the newly immigrated.  The “under god” was added in the 1950’s.


To pledge an allegiance to a piece of cloth symbolizing a federation of states under a republic system of government something most of the free world considers a strange habit.  (We are alone in this requirement, with the exception of North Korea, who also requires children pledge daily allegiance, oddly enough, they copied it from us.)


It seems exclusionary to say “one nation under god” when there are many religions, and freedom of religion is a basic founding principal of our country. Freedom of religion, freedom of expression – cannot be possible when we fail to guarantee freedom from coercion and the freedom to remain, respectfully, silent.

My family came to America in 1640.  My family fought in the revolution. They stood alongside the heroic founders of the country, sat in Tammany Hall, and believed, strongly in liberty and freedom. I am patriotic. I am loyal to the United States.


I live consciously. I want my words to have meaning.  And, I want my actions to speak loudly.


My daily oath is to uphold the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and what is right, just, and fair in the world.  I am not ashamed that I stand silent.  I believe we should have the freedom to remain silent, or to recite the pledge.

But, no one should be coerced, chided, or ridiculed for their beliefs.

Outgoing city council member, Dan Gase was disrespectful and crass when he asked me, at the PABA meeting why I did not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

It is something very personal. His insinuation is insulting.



Marolee Smith



  1. Michael Gentry

    I support Marolee’s right to decide for herself whether to recite a pledge. Does Dan Gase want to make her do it? I think POC should interview Dan and let him explain why he believes she should not be respected for exercising her civil right.

  2. Mike Libera

    Blind obedience to tradition or governmental authority is the quickest path to loss of freedom. It is also the best way to grow political parties like the Nazis and give them standing and power. Those who forget or ignore history are doomed to repeat it. To slavishly salute ANY symbol is not Patriotism – it’s not even Nationalism . . it’s called Jingoism.

  3. Neville Aitken

    Everyone has the right to speak the words of the Pledge and everyone has the right to remain silent.
    The rest of us have the right to form our opinion of those actions and react accordingly.

    Editor’s Note: What reaction is appropriate?

  4. anon

    All that dicators like Mr. Gase can hope for is blind allegiance…because none of his values work for a civilized society.

    Ms. Smith, we appreciate your mind. Anti-intellectualism has gotten us nowhere. Time for a change, and it starts local.

  5. Gene

    The flag is a symbol representing the United States and the Republic. It is your right to salute the flag/republic/country or in your case to refrain.

    Your choice was popular in the 1960’s.

    I believe you’re missing the trend but see how it works for you.

  6. J. Lawerence

    The pledge is allegiance to the country of which the flag is a symbol.

    There are many holes in your debate points.

    You don’t have to say the word “god” if you so choose but could participate and indicate your allegiance. Also, it doesn’t indicate which “god” so you might be incorrect in your assertion that it is exclusionary.

    Your words and actions speak loudly. You do not pledge your allegiance to the United States of America or the Republic for which it stands. You must also feel one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all to be something that should not be supported with a symbolic gesture.

    Kindest regards,

  7. Ellayne J

    Oh Goodness!

    Talk about half-truths Ms. Smith. The extended hand salute was copied from the Roman salute and once the Nazi’s began using the salute our country switched to a hand over the heart. You paint an inflammatory picture with your words.

    I suppose one could take issue saying the symbolism of a hand over a heart if you search long enough.

    And how you leap to North Korea is silly.

    You never had to salute the flag, the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette case, overturning a West Virginia law that required public school students to salute the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance, declaring such requirements a violation of their First Amendment rights… unless you were in school before 1943.

    I believe the question raised by your choice not to participate in the pledge of allegiance is simple.

    Ms. Smith will you pledge to respect the country, its processes and laws, administer them fairly for the benefit of all people regardless of their race, religion, party affiliation or brand of toothpaste?

    : )

    Editor’s Note: Thanks for writing. You say, she “never had to salute the flag.” She explains her elementary school principal insisted she did–supreme court decisions do not always change dominant behavior.

    Even now, many think one must repeat the pledge as a threshold to public office.

    When one takes office they take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the city/county/state/United States, etc. This is an enforceable pledge.

  8. Jim


    Your letter to the editor does not paint you in a positive light. It would have been better had you not taken the bait. We are left with what appears to be a self-absorbed (my family fought in the revolution and fought Tammany Hall) justification.

    Just say you dont like the pledge its ok.

    Refusing to pledge allegience and then wave the flag seems mildly schizophrenic which isnt helpful to your cause. .

  9. Beth

    Girl you are cray-cray!

    that letter is all over the place. the rambling thoughts seem like a drowning woman grasping for straws to keep from going under.

    Take a few deep breaths and relax.

  10. Daniel

    Just sayin’

    People who use the word ‘I’ a lot are often thought to be self-centred and narcissistic but new research suggests this simply isn’t true.

    U.S. researchers have claimed that people who frequently use the pronoun are actually less self-assured than those who do not.

    They found that people who often use ‘I’ in conversation tend to think they are inferior to the person they are speaking to.

    The research, from the University of Texas, showed that people also use the word if they are feeling insecure or if they are in either physical or emotional pain, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    The team, led by Dr James Pennebaker, carried out five studies to look at the way rank is revealed by the use of pronouns in conversation.

    Each of the experiments suggested people who are thought of as having a higher status use the pronoun ‘I’ less.

    ‘There is a misconception that people who are confident, have power, have high-status tend to use “I” more than people who are low status,’ Dr Pennebaker, told The Wall Street Journal.

    ‘That is completely wrong. The high-status person is looking out at the world and the low-status person is looking at himself.’

    In the first of the five studies, students were split into 41 four-person groups and were asked to work as a team but one member of the team was told to be the leader.

    The results showed that ‘I’ accounted for 4.5% of the leaders’ words while it was 5.6% of the non-leaders’ words.

  11. anonymous


    As if, with all the problems this town and country has, this topic is worthy of this much discussion.

    Perhaps that it is, demonstrates why Port Angeles and this country continue to have so many problems.

  12. Elizabeth Stallings

    This is just another attempt by our current city council to put negative attention on a person running for a council seat who will not just go along to get along and fall into line with whichever way the wind is blowing when it comes to voting on city council issues. Dan Gase who made this an issue knows perfectly well who Marolee Smith is. She attends and has attended all city council meetings for a long time.He knows she is informed and aware of what is going on in local government.This red herring Dan has thrown out is stupid and his attempt to paint Marolee as unpatriotic is ridiculous. He obviously does not want an informed individual who asks questions on the city council.

    1. Jim

      Elizabeth – should Marolee win she will become part of the process and by that I mean a politician.

      Politicians must be able to negotiate, compromise and collaborate.

      On any one issue only 55% of the people will think she did a good job.


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