Pledge of Allegiance
In 1887, George Balch composed a pledge of allegiance to the United States flag. He wanted to teach immigrant children and others to be loyal to their country. George Balch's original pledge went like this: 'We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag.' This pledge was accepted by many, including the Daughters of the American Revolution organization, until the National Flag Conference in 1923.
Francis Bellamy thought that patriotism was not strongly felt during the 1890s. In 1892, he composed his version of a Pledge of Allegiance. It read like this: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He wrote it so that it could be recited in 15 seconds. Bellamy did not like Balch's pledge and thought it too childish and not dignified.
Bellamy's version was first published in a magazine called The Youths' Companion in September of 1892. The marketer of the magazine, James Upham, wanted children to learn about loyalty and patriotism, so the publication of the pledge was to be part of the celebration to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas. He believed that a flag should be flown on every school. He decided to sell flags to the children for just his cost. The first year, flags were sold to 25,000 schools.
Bellamy and Upham had arranged with the Congress and President Benjamin Harrison to make a proclamation that the flag ceremony should be at the center of any ceremony on October 12. The Chicago World's Fair which would celebrate Columbus' 400th anniversary in 1892 and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance were to happen together. President Harrison declared October 12 as Columbus Day.
In 1923, The National Flag Conference made a change from 'my flag' to 'the flag of the United States.' One year later, the two words, 'of America', were added. Members of the Conference did not want immigrants to confuse the flag and loyalty to their original country with their new country.
In 1942, Congress officially adopted the Pledge of Allegiance in this form: 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. The official name, The Pledge of Allegiance, was adopted in 1945.
Louis Bowman of Chicago began adding the words, 'under God' in 1948. He said that the words came from President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The addition was adopted by a Catholic organization called the Knights of Columbus. The idea spread across the country.
In 1953, Representative Louis Rabaut of Michigan sponsored a bill in Congress to add these two words to the Pledge of Allegiance. Nothing happened. However, President Dwight Eisenhower was sitting in the same church President Lincoln attended on Feb. 7, 1954. The pastor, George Docherty, spoke about freedom and said that our pledge needed to include the words, 'under God.' Eisenhower agreed and signed a bill into law on June 14, 1954. Ever since that day, the United States has celebrated June 14 as Flag Day.
The United States Flag Code says that a person reciting the Pledge of Allegiance should stand facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Persons in uniform should give a military salute.
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