Hidden Corners of History: The Pledge of Allegiance

Jarrod E. Stephens The Ashland Beacon It truly is amazing how that with just a few words you can say so much. Recently I have given a lot of thought to the morning routine of most schools of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and what a profound statement that it has made over time. Students of all grades and backgrounds stand at at-tention to the one symbol that stands for America and make a simple pledge to respect and honor our country. It really is awesome whenever you stop and think about it. In its original form, the pledge of allegiance was more generic and didn’t even specify a flag or na-tion to which to declare one’s liberty. The original text for the pledge was, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and the justice for all.” The author, Francis Bellamy, wrote the pledge for a magazine called Youth’s Companion and felt that any nation could possibly use the pledge as their own. On its first public recitation which oc-curred on October 12, 1892, the pledge was recited by an estimated 12 million students across the nation to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the new world. After reading the original text, you will certainly notice that many changes were made. The first changes came in the 1920’s whenever it was suggested that it was too vague. Revisions were made in 1923 and in 1924 the pledge was again changed to name “The United States of America” as the country to which the pledge would recognize. Diversity in America makes it imperative that we have unifying moments and the recitation of The Pledge is certainly one such moment. The pledge continued to grow in popularity for morning reci-tation and became even more popular in the years preceding and even during World War II. The cry for patriotism and loyalty to our nation was louder than ever. It was formally included in the U.S. Flag code in 1942 and the name “The Pledge of Allegiance” was officially adopted in 1945. The adoption of the salute with the right hand over your heart was adopted in 1942 as well. It wasn’t until the cold war began to dominate the attention of the world whenever Congress under President Dwight D. Eisenhower made the final language change in 1954. Congress adopted the addition of the words “Under God” to be included in the pledge. Eisenhower stated that adding the words would, “Reaffirm the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future,” and “strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.” As it is with nearly anything in America, the pledge has met its fair share of opposition but contin-ues to be a popular recitation in our schools and before some public events. Considering the divi-sion that we have witnessed in our country in the past decade, I find great joy in seeing students stand at attention with their hands over their heart while they make that age-old vow to be loyal to our country and 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 to all.

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