FARGO — The Fargo Board of Education began its Tuesday evening, April 12, meeting with the oath of allegiance, the first time it had done so since the practice was established at a recent meeting, where the board voted 6-2 to adopt the practice.
The two board members who voted “no” on the previous pledge motion – Seth Holden and Jim Johnson – defended the pledge on Tuesday night, with Holden remaining silent as the words of the pledge were recited by board members and members of the public.
The occasion was marked by a presentation of the colors by high school students who are members of the school district’s Air Force Junior ROTC program.
The recitation of the pledge went largely without incident on Tuesday, although a member of the public referenced the non-unanimous vote of the council during brief remarks at the start of the meeting.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Holden confirmed that he did not recite the pledge, largely for the reasons he gave during the previous debate on the matter.
In his earlier remarks, Holden spoke at length about his reasons for not supporting reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of meetings.
“Will this law cause the council to do a better job? I would say no,” Holden said. “I would say our work might not improve because of the division it might create because not all people want to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Holden said his opposition was based on several things, including his view that not everyone in the country enjoys freedom and justice, and he said on Tuesday that the religious overtones in the pledge could be alienating. for some members of the community, based on their personal beliefs. .
He said that’s a problem because the district is committed to being inclusive.
“If I don’t want to take this oath of allegiance at every board meeting, it’s not because I don’t have allegiance to my country, it’s not because I don’t like my country is because there are words in the oath of allegiance that I believe are not true,” Holden said in previous discussions.
Johnson, who sided with Holden in the vote on whether to adopt the pledge as a way to start board meetings, said at the time: ‘This leads to a possible situation in the future which could create problems for the board as opposed to facilitating our work.
“I’m an Eagle Boy Scout, so the Pledge of Allegiance is near and dear to my heart. I am an elder in a Presbyterian church, so the Lord and Savior is near and dear to my heart,” added Johnson, who said his biggest problem with the pledge had to do with a wording change in the 1950s. to include a reference to God, “making, quite frankly, a Judeo-Christian commitment rather than a commitment to a nation”.
As the board voted to start meetings with the pledge, a number of board members said they had no problem with it.
There are no penalties for anyone who does not recite the pledge at the start of school board meetings.
Council vice-chairman Robin Nelson was among several council members who thanked students who presented flags during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Col. Steven Muhs, who led the students, said the Fargo Air Force Junior ROTC program is one of two such programs in the state, the other being located in Minot.
Muhs added that there are two Army Junior ROTC programs in the state, one located in Grand Forks and the other in Devils Lake.
He said that contrary to popular belief, very few students who attend junior ROTC programs go into the military.
Muhs said the main goal of the program is to make better citizens for the country.