The pledge of allegiance is a proclamation of allegiance towards the United States as a nation. The official wording of the pledge speaks about allegiance to the U.S. flag and to the republic. The pledge is an important declaration which is often used as the opening statement for the meeting of many government bodies across the United States. It is also recited in classrooms across the country as a way of inculcating patriotism among the young students.
The origins of the Pledge of Allegiance can be traced back to Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister who composed the pledge back in 1892. At the same time, another version of the pledge existed, created by Captain George T. Balch.
Balch reportedly coined his version of the pledge well before Bellamy.
‘We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag!’ However, the version of the pledge created by Bellamy was later published and became a lot more popular.
‘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.’
The pledge is short and simple, and it takes only 15 seconds to be read. When Bellamy created the original pledge, it contained ‘my flag’ instead of ‘the flag’. The words ‘under God’ were also missing from the original pledge and were only subsequently added to it.
When the Pledge of Allegiance came to be used in the late 19th century and then in the 20th century, it was accompanied by a salute. The original salute comprised of an outstretched hand towards a flag erected to the front of the pledge takers. The hand remained outstretched towards the flag, palm down, while taking the pledge and ended with a palm-up position.
This salute continued to accompany the pledge all the way until the 1940s. In the 1940s, as the World War II ravaged the world under the military ambitions of Nazi Germany, a similarity between the pledge salute and the Nazi salute was observed. To prevent this, the United States Congress stated that the salute for the pledge must be in a hand-over-heart gesture. Since then, the hand-over-heart gesture accompanies the pledge of allegiance.
As a popular practice, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited every morning in schools across the United States. It served as a way of fostering patriotism and American ideals in the school kids. However, this practice has also been made controversial in past.
In a ruling of the American Supreme Court in 1943, the court stated that the school can’t make it an essential requirement for students to recite the pledge. However, the practice is still very popular and is practiced across many schools around the U.S.