Published Online: March 4, 1998

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Waiting to inhale

Students in Miami-Dade County could be breathing a little less easy under a proposal to do away with a pause in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The new rule, proposed by longtime school board member G. Holmes Braddock, would require students to say the pledge's "one nation under God" in one breath. Students in the 347,000-student school system--like most--pause between "one nation" and "under God," but Mr. Holmes says they've got it all wrong.

"There's no pause there," he argued. "My point is, if you're going to teach it, teach it properly. If Congress wanted a pause, they would have put in a comma.

Experts say the battle to do away with the pause is futile.

"The fact that a pause is not indicated by a comma does not mean you may not put a pause in," said Craig Packard, an expert on language and linguistics at the Washington-based National Center for Linguistics. "This rule sounds like it has nothing to do with language and everything to do with politics."

The pledge, written in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America, originally read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1923, the U.S. Flag Association replaced "my flag" with "the flag of the United States of America, as an attempt to unify the country. At the urging of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Congress added "under God" in 1954 to distinguish the U.S. from atheistic communism.

Stealing lessons

When 3rd grade students at Kenmore Elementary School in Elkton, Md., learned thieves had stolen their classroom computers and a printer, they didn't accept the news without protest.

"This particular class was so enraged that someone would stoop so low as to take their computers that they suggested, 'Why don't we write a letter to the editor of the [local] paper?'" said Dennis Catron, the principal of the 410-student school.

Students at the school had been asked to contribute to the student page in the local newspaper, the Cecil Whig, last month. Instead of writing a letter to the editor, the students wrote to the thieves in a student column, pleading for the computers' safe return.

Mr. Catron said that while the police had a good idea about how the heist was pulled off, the officers said it was doubtful that the thieves would ever be caught.

--KERRY A. WHITE & MARY ANN ZEHR

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