Pledge Controversy Shocks South Mississippi

The American flag is always part of the Gulfport Rotary Club's weekly meeting. So is the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rotarians such as Ron Roland say the pledge symbolizes American pride. Roland said preventing children from reciting it in public schools would be a mistake. That's what a federal appeals court in California initially suggested in a Wednesday ruling.

"For them to come up with eliminating God if the Pledge of Allegiance," Roland said, "it seems like it's ridiculous to me."

Robin Crawford sat next to Roland at the Rotary Club luncheon. "We ought to be proud of our country," Crawford said, supporting Roland's assertion that the words "under God" belonged in the pledge.

As Louis Whittle shined shoes, he said the pledge was a shining example of America's can do spirit. The controversy over its constitutionality baffled his clients. Paul Guichet said the pledge "is part of our history and our foundation." He said calling the phrase "one nation under God" unconstitutional was "a liberal interpretation" that disappointed him.

On the deck next to Ship Island's ferry boat, Marcee Bergeron said now more than ever, kids should pledge loyalty to God and country. That's what we were founded on," the Louisiana tourist said. "That's what we should say proudly and mean it from the heart."

The U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately decide whether the Pledge of Allegiance and the words "under God" belong in public schools.

by Brad Kessie

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