The Pledge of Allegiance was officially recognized by Congress on December 28, 1945. What do you know about this salute to our nation's flag?
Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance?
In 1892, as part of a national patriotic school program, a 37-year-old minister named Francis Bellamy composed the Pledge of Allegiance. It was originally written and published in, the magazine The Youth's Companion and it was to be an integral part of the Columbus Day festivities.
The original version was a bit different than what we know today. 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 American Legion and Daughters of the American Revolution made a change to the pledge. They removed the word "my" and inserted the words "the Flag of the United States of America." This change was made so that immigrant children would know they were saluting the United States flag, and not one from their native country.
With the national fear of communism in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower urged Congress to add the words "under God" to the pledge. Eisenhower stated this change 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."
Why Do We Place Our Hand Over Our Heart?
We are asked to put our right hand over our heart during the Pledge of Allegiance as a sign of respect. The original Bellamy salute was quite different, as described by Youth's Companion:
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 align 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.
A similar salute was adopted by Italy and Nazi Germany. This caused much confusion and concern among Americans, especially with the United States entering WWII. In 1942, Congress amended the Flag Code to placing the right hand over the heart during the pledge to honor the flag.
Who Is Michael Newdow and What Does He Have to Do with the Pledge? Michael Arthur Newdow, an American attorney and physician, found fame throughout the 2000s as he sought to have the Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional because of its inclusion of the phrase "under God." Newdow filed and lost lawsuits to stop the invocation prayer at President Bush's second inauguration and to prevent references to religion from being part of President Obama's inauguration.