• CHAPTER NINE: I Pledge Allegiance To My Flag...


    Franklin is teaching and realizes half his class is missing.

    "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    As the class of 9th graders finish reciting the pledge of allegiance, Franklin turns to his class, which has many empty seats. What was once a class of 22 students, is now a group of 14.

    The voice of the school's vice principal continues over the p.a. system,
         "...and now for a moment of silence."
    During the moment of silence, Franklin looks at the remaining students with concern and then smiles, as not to worry the children.
         "That concludes today's announcements. As a reminder, we are on the "B" schedule today, with a shortened first period, as everyone will be returning to their home room at the end of the day to receive your Dracel Citizen Card. Remember, beginning tomorrow, you will not be allowed on the school's grounds without the Dracel card. If you come to school without your card, you will be sent home. Again, we will be on "B" schedule with a shortened first class period to issue you your Dracel Citizen Card."

    All the students look up Franklin as if Clark Kent has been their teacher and they finally see that he's Superman.

         "It's your name, Mr. Dracel. You're famous."
    The kids all smiles and agree. They are amazed and all start to ask questions at once.
         "Did you make the card?"
         "Are you famous?"
         "Have you met the President?"
         "Have you met Justin Bieber?"
         "Can I get mine in pink?"

    All excited and talking at the same time, Franklin continues to look over his class and realizes who's absent.

         "Ok everyone...ok...settle down. Quiet. Please.
    They all quiet, waiting for Franklin to answer their questions. He continues to look over the room. Franklin teaches math, but today he begins his class with a history lesson,
         "The pledge of allegiance. Have you learned in your social studies class where the pledge comes from...where it originated?"

    No one answers. In fact, they are all looking at Mr. Dracel like he's an alien and they are waiting for their math teacher to return.
         "No? Well...the pledge as we know it has undergone a number of changes. The original version, created in 1892, went as follows, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
    One of the students responds earnestly,
         "Well shoot. That's a lot shorter and to the point. Why can't we just say that?"
         "Well...it changed because over the years America changed. More people began to come here from other countries, making America their home. Congress kept tweaking the oath to make clear for those becoming citizens here, your country...your flag...is now that of the United States and that the United Stated is a nation of faith with 'under God'."

    The room is silent.

    Seeing that perhaps his history lesson is lost on the students, Franklin continues with his actual business with the students,
         "OK. Let's...ummmm...let's go over the homework assignment from last..."
         "Mr. Dracel?"
         "Yes, Avery?"
         "Aren't you gonna call roll?"

    Franklin looks at his student who asked the question...and then scanned the room at the faces looking back at him. Franklin turns to his desk, grabs his lesson planner and begins calling out names,

         "Joseph?"
         "Here."
         "Oscar?"
         "Here."
         "Michelle?"
         "Here."
         "Miguel?"
    Silence.
         "Miguel?"
         "Caroline?"
         "Here."
         "Tyrone?"
         "Here."
         "Manuel?"
    Silence.
         "Amber?"
         "Here."
         "Cory?"
         "Here."
          "Jill?"
         "Here."
         "Jose?"
         "Wanda?"
         "Here."
         "Ariel?"
         "Here."
         "Christina?"
         "Scott?"
         "Here."
        "Ixchel?"
        "Avery?"
        "Here."
        "Ibrahim?"
        "Marisol?"
        "Janet?"
        "Here."
        "Sabrina?"
        "Here."
        "Abdul?"

    Tyrone asks after the role has been called,
         "Mr. Dracel?"
         "Yes Tyrone?"
         "Are all the Mexican kids sick or something?"
        "No fool!"
    answers Sabrina.
         "I'm still here...and so is Oscar! Abdul and Ibby ain't Mexican and they ain't here either!"
    The class laughs and continue to chatter. Franklin doesn't smile, laugh or speak. He continues to look over his class and bites back tears. Scott catches Franklin's gaze,
        "Hey Mr. D? You aight. You look sick man. Maybe you caught that Mexican flu!"
    The class erupts in even louder laughter. Franklin snaps out of his daze and snaps at the class,
         "THERE IS NO MEXICAN FLU! The next person who says that will be sent home!"
         "You mean to the office..."
         "I mean home!"
    The class is startled and quiet.
         "There is no Mexican flu.
         "Ok then Mr. D. Where is everybody? We ain't never had eight people absent at once. Not even when the flu...like...the flu flu...was goin' 'round."
         "I don't know Scott. I don't know the where..."

    The bell rings. The students all grab their things and head out the door. Franklin is left standing still in an empty classroom.
         "No...I don't know. And that's what frightens me."
    He looks up at the flag.
         "We all pledged allegiance but I somehow I don't think it matters anymore."

    Students begin to file in for Franklin's second period class. The tardy bell rings and the last of Frank's second class runs in. Once they are all seated, he counts.

    His second class of 18...is now 9.


  • 1 comment:

    1. "Have you met Justin Bieber?"... on the floor laughing!! But in all seriousness, this chapter is intense. Lawdamercy what is going on!!! I don't know if my heart can take it.

      ReplyDelete

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