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US Politics

Pledge Of Allegiance And Its History

Have you ever wondered where the Pledge of Allegiance came from and why we have this ritual in the United States? Here is the low down on the story in a nutshell.

The Pledge of Allegiance was first published for Columbus Day, on September 8, 1892, in the Boston magazine The Youth's Companion. For many years, it was argued between James B Upham and Francis Bellamy over whom could claim the credit for this work. Francis Bellamy was later determined to the author by the U.S. Library of Congress.

The original text used the phrase, "my flag" which was later replaced in 1924 with the words, "the flag of the United States of America."

The Pledge was distributed to schools to help children learn this recitation as a unifying act of patriotism that continues today.

Congress recognized the Pledge officially in 1942. In 1954, the phrase "under God" was added to the text. In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite the Pledge as it conflicted with Church-State laws.

Today, the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance is set in the US Code, at 36 USC 172. When the Pledge is recited one should be standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men should remove their hats with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. People in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and give a military salute. Then repeat these words:

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.

Should the words "under God" be there? That point of law has been raised and it will probably take a ruling from the Supreme Court to come to a final decision.

Those against the words cite that by putting those words it is invoking a prayer, thus excluding all atheists and agnostics from a ceremony meant to unite with a national call. If a government is imposing God on those who do not believe, they are breaking the First Amendment. Besides, it was originally without the words considered offensive, so what is the big deal in taking them back out so as to not exclude a growing percentage of Americans who do not believe in God.

Those in favor of keeping it feel it is proper to keep it in as many of the Founding Fathers did belong to a religion of one sort or another and the words would include any God one could believe in. They also cite that the vast majority of Americans do believe in some form of God and by invoking the name it is to solidify the vow of the pledge much like one giving testimony under oath of God (which also is protested by the majority of atheists.)