August 14, 2020:

Around the time of the Kent and Jackson State shootings the kids stopped reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

One by one they sat it out, until my entire homeroom class was sitting. Just me and one other kid were left. We both supported the war.

I didn't yet understand the history. I trusted the dishonest government narrative: we were protecting a peace-loving democratic country cruelly invaded by Communist neighbors who wanted to blanket the world in totalitarianism.

More than that, I'd been distinctly contrarian since earliest childhood. It was protest against the herd, and protest against doing what you're told. If the kids are sitting I'm going to stand. Living proof one can rebel and be profoundly conformist with one and the same gesture.

I don't remember when they stood again. Maybe they never did. I learned about Vietnam several years later, at the tail end of high school, reading Fire in the Lake for a history project. By then I was long past turning up for homeroom.