Being an American and attending school starts you off with the basics. Learning manners, telling time, basic math, basic social skills, how to appreciate both lunchtime and recess, and how to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Every morning the same routine since first grade, arrive in class, sit down, bell rings, and we recite the Pledge of Allegiance. As I look back now on the earliest days of my scholastic
incarceration career, the pledge was just a bunch of words that we were forced to memorize. We were never instructed on the meaning, the history of, or the reason why we recite it every day before the start of class. If you ask any student from 1st grade to 5th grade, chances are they know very little about the Pledge other than how to recite it. A lot of phrases that we frequently say, tend to be overlooked as to what they really mean and or why they are structured the way they are. For example the phrase “if worst comes to worst” means if the worst possible situation will happen..” but if you think about it, how can worst come to be worst? shouldn’t the phrase be “if best comes to worst”? well this is one phrase that we as english speakers say many times through out our life time but very few of us take the time to analyze it and question why it is structured and stated this way. The same is with the Pledge of Allegiance. We recite it but most of us do not pay attention to what we are saying nor know the history behind the pledge while reciting the 119 year old Covenant phrase.
But the way that we recite it is not how it was written in 1892. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion (a children’s magazine) on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.
In its original form it 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 words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read:
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1954, in response to the Communist nuclear threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration.
Today (2011) it reads:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Section 4 of the Flag Code states:
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”
The original Bellamy salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who authored the original Pledge, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words “to the flag,” the arm was extended toward the flag.
At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.
(excerpt from The Youth’s Companion, 1892)
Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting “to the Flag,” the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.
During World War II, it was noticed that the salute resembled the Nazi salute, so it was quickly changed to where the right hand resides over the heart throughout the articulation.
So when you hear the Pledge of Allegiance you now should have a better understanding about it’s words and its meaning. It is interesting how it has evolved through out the years. Even today the passage “under god” is being questioned if it should be an integral part of the pledge as now in current times could possibly be offensive to non-believers of the man upstairs. In my opinion, this nation was founded under the belief of god so I think it should be included regardless just as the “In God we trust” should be a static part of the dollar bills. If you don’t like it, start your own country . Hopefully this has given you some insight and some info that you may have otherwise not known about our pledge. The other item of our nation that is also overlooked is our national anthem. But that will be another story for another day. For now, I hope you enjoyed learning the history and background of our Pledge of Allegiance. I am proud to be an American and can honestly say I understand the meaning of the pledge. God Bless America!
Thanks for reading,