Patriotism, not religious faith, should be the tie that binds

I write in response to the June 15, 2004 article, "Court keeps 'under God' in Pledge." I'm an eighth-grader in Greeley, Colo. In my language arts class, we are currently writing persuasive essays on various topics. Mine happens to be on the question of continuing to use the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. As I have researched both sides, I have come to the conclusion that this phrase undermines the Constitution in that it prohibits religious freedom.

The original pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and did not at that point contain the phrase "under God." Bellamy's intent was to write a pledge that would enforce our nation's strong bonds, no matter what its people's faith.

It was not until the cold war that President Eisenhower signed a Congressional bill adding the words to show the difference between American democracy and "godless" communism. During that era, instead of relying on the patriotic faith that resides in us all, we Americans turned to our religion for protection from communism. In a small way, that was driven by fear.

I think this controversy was never really about religion; it centered around the faith we had in our own country. Unfortunately, this patriotic faith faltered, and we turned to our personal religious faiths. Now let us return to our patriotism, and when we recite the Pledge, let it ring out with the voices of millions of diverse people that truly make this country so special.
Steven Denham
Greeley, Colo.

Illegals' kids deserve an education, too

I just finished reading the Dec. 19 article, "California clash: tuition for illegal immigrants." I just want to comment on this quote in the article: " 'It's about equality,' says Hawaiian Chaning Jang, a senior at the University of California, Davis.... 'Our parents pay taxes. Their [parents] don't.' "

I just would like to add that a large number of illegal immigrants do pay taxes. It's unfair to say that kids who were brought to the US by their parents and grew up in this country - who are American in their hearts and souls - do not deserve the right to go to school, graduate, get a good job, and raise a family. A US citizen will always have more benefits than these kids: The chance to get loans, scholarships, and grants - all of this is awarded to US citizens, just because they are citizens.

A lot of the illegal immigrants who do have the money to go to college have to pay the entire tuition out of pocket, without help from anyone. I simply wish that more people understood the hardship that these children have to go through.
Bri Cassar
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Enforce fines on transit union

Regarding the Dec. 21 article, "Transit strike's high stakes": As a daily rider of the New York City transit system, I was appalled at the Transit Workers Union's decision to blatantly violate the state's Taylor Law and go on strike. While I understand the union's desire to keep their hard-won benefits for their members, penalizing the entire city - including the 7 million daily bus and train commuters - is simply unacceptable.

The mayor and governor should see to it that every fine imposed on both the union and individual workers is strictly enforced. Waiving the fines away during negotiations would send a dangerous message to other municipal unions that carrying out an illegal strike will incur little, if any, financial penalties. I shudder to think of the precedent this will set for NYC's police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers.
Dolores Ferraro
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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