Published June 29, 2010
When Sean Harrington entered his freshman year at Arlington High School, he noticed something peculiar: There were no American flags in the classrooms, and no one recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
So Harrington enlisted the aid of his fellow students, and now, three years later, they have succeeded in getting flags installed in the classrooms. But the pledge still will not be recited.
The Arlington, Mass., school committee has rejected the 17-year-old's request to allow students to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance, because some educators are concerned that it would be hard to find teachers willing to recite it, according to a report in the Arlington Patch.
But the request to have the pledge recited failed when the committee's vote ended in a 3-3 tie.
"I was really heartbroken," Harrington told FOX News Radio. "It's hard to think that something so traditional in American society was turned down."
His fight has received quite a bit of support from the community. "When I was going to school, it was an honor and a privilege to pledge allegiance to the flag," Francis De Guglielmo, 55, told the Patch. He called the ban an "absolute travesty" and a "disgrace."
Harrington, who will be a senior in the fall, said he will continue to fight. "I'm not a person who quits and I don't back down. It's a very righteous cause and needs to be followed through until the end."
Some committee members voiced concerns about forcing people to do something that might violate their beliefs – including religious beliefs. Among the no-votes was committee member Leba Heigham.
"Patriotism is a very personal thing for all of us, but I do not think it is in the school committee's best interest to mandate that any of our employees recite the pledge," she told the Patch.
Harrington said the recitation would have been strictly voluntary.
"If we can't find one teacher who is willing to say the pledge, then the system we have is cracked," he told FOX News Radio, noting that a number of teachers signed his petition.
He said the school's ban on the pledge sends the wrong message. "It tells me that we've basically cast aside what our country is founded on," he said. "It's saying that we don't really care, and it's sad."
Arlington's superintendent of schools did not return a call for comment.