Some very good points have been made on both sides. I think I'm in the middle on this one a bit.
I say the Pledge of Allegiance when I'm in a situation where it's called for. However that is basically out of tradition. I don't pledge my allegiance "to the flag." I pledge my allegiance to my country, one nation. I have an issue with some of the words in the pledge. But, I go through the motions of the tradition, not because I think it's mandatory or indicative of my patriotism or love of country, but because it's tradition and because I think it's well intended. It doesn't really make sense to me in literal terms, but it's like coloring easter eggs with my kids or putting up a christmas tree...I do it because it's a tradition and I am comfortable enough with it, regardless of how perplexing my take on it might seem.
I do not condemn those who refuse, that is their choice and that is what I think makes our nation great. We don't have to say anything we don't want to. I don't judge the patriotism of someone based upon some public display of rhetoric or execution of ritual. I've seen people get fighting mad over a flag burning and just shake my head. Symbols, allegiance to symbols, putting a symbol above someone's right to exercise free speech express their ideals...that's just backward to me.
Tradition is not sacred. The very fact taht some of you can get bent over someone burning a flag but are willing to stand by someone wearing a flag pattern shirt or headband or see flag bumper stickers tore up and covered in mud...it's just all too convenient for me.
I love my country, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But if I'm not loyal to a piece of cloth because it "represents" my country. I'm loyal to my country and want what's best for it...not some symbol. You can't disrespect a flag because it's an inanimate object. Logically it's foolish to pledge allegiance to a flag. That doesn't make sense in the least.
Anyway, this story is just saddening. However it's not an end to the world either. The girl should get her apology. She deserves as much respect as anyone else. And her decision to not partake in some ritualistic tradition is not insulting to anyone.