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Prescribed patriotism shouldn't be required

A charter school in Atlanta recently issued a press release explaining its students will no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance during its daily all-student morning meeting. The announcement drew the ire of many who believe a public school should require students to pledge allegiance to the American flag and all it represents.
The press release from the school quoted the student body president saying it was obvious over the past couple of years fewer and fewer students were participating in the pledge. Using the school mascot, the school will create a Wolf Pack Pledge incorporating the virtues of community service and civic responsibility to family, community, country, and the global society. Students will have the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at another point during the school day.
Some may find these adjustments inadequate and disrespectful to the flag and what it stands for. That's too bad and perhaps even a bit shortsighted.
After all, our grandfathers, fathers, brothers and sisters fought for the virtues of freedom and liberty – even the freedom and liberty to disagree with the status quo and the desire to express their patriotism in another way. Our grandfathers, fathers, brothers and sisters fought against tyrannical leaders who required citizens practice blind loyalty and penalized those, oftentimes brutally, who opposed it.
Our country was founded on the belief government shouldn't force people to think, act and worship a prescribed way. Our society is strong enough to accept the idea not everyone must stand at attention and pledge allegiance without fear of reprisal or being ostracized. We expect only those who protect our freedoms and new citizens to pledge allegiance.
If we can't accept the idea some people don't think and act in a prescribed manner, we have far greater issues to fear.