Since fourth or fifth grade, I've chosen not to participate in the pledge of Allegiance, for a number of reasons. First off, through La Raza Unida Youth Cmte. I learned of what the conquistadores, and other European voyagers did to the people who lived on this continent.
Mostly it was that my father, a veteran, taught me that freedom of speech meant that I had a choice. It was not mandatory. He made sure we learned our history, our rights, and our responsibilities.
Also, the response that teachers had made me more determined to practice my freedoms. Here they are supposed to teach me to be an active member of society and they would tell me that the pledge was mandatory. In fact it is not. My parents would have to meet with principals and teachers almost every school year. My father would often just tell them, "This is her freedom of speech and you are not forcing her to do something she doesn't want. Kids are forced to do too many things already."
This fighting spirit is what makes our communities great. It helped me get through school. And it makes me who I am.