What You Didn’t Know…
The Pledge of Allegiance
The good old “Pledge of Allegiance” has caused so many arguments and offence in America, but that is only because Americans do not know the history of the pledge. The pledge was never written to honor veterans and as for standing and honoring the flag, again, originally was not for veterans or even active soldiers. Had most Americans understood the origins, most wouldn’t even continue to do it.
The first Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Civil War veteran, George T. Balch. Captain Balch believed American children (especially immigrants) should be taught to be loyal to America. He wrote the following pledge:
“We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag!”
This pledge was recited from 1887 and continued to be used alongside the one we use today until 1923.
The pledge most Americans are familiar with was written by a Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy. He did not like Balch’s pledge so he decided to write his own. Minister Bellamy believed that patriotism should be taught in schools and so he created a new pledge to be taught and recited in all public schools. Bellamy’s original pledge was as follows:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality and fraternity for all.”
Because Minister Bellamy realized women and non-whites did not have equality, he changed it to, “with liberty and justice for all.” (Apparently, he didn’t realize they didn’t have liberty and justice either).
In 1892 James B. Upham created an event to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, and on October 12, 1892, was the first Columbus Day, and the first-time children recited the new Pledge of Allegiance in all public schools. In later years they change “to my flag,” to “to the flag of the United States of America.” And in 1948, Louis Albert Bowman added, “under God” to the pledge.
Originally the pledge was recited with your right hand on your heart and once you go to “to my flag” you saluted the flag with your right hand towards the flag and your hand down. During War World II they realized the salute looked like the Nazi salute (Heil Hitler), so they changed it to keeping your hand on your heart.
In 1940 Jehovah Witnesses complained that saluting the flag was idol worship and was against their religion, so in 1942 the supreme court passed a law stating that no one has recite the pledge nor stand for the pledge.
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”
The purpose of the pledge was to teach children loyalty to their country. But I disagree. Many Germans where loyal to Germany and thousands of Jews were killed due to that loyalty (Holocaust). We should never teach children to be loyal to their country, but be loyal to justice, righteousness, and good. And you do not need a pledge for that. Children don’t learn by reciting; they learn by following. When adults stay loyal to what is just, right, and good, so will children.