Monday, July 4, 2011

The Pledge of Allegiance

We Americans have a set of rules for which we, as Americans, are to abide by regarding the display, care and etiquette that is used when handling the American flag.  It is called the 'United State Flag Code' and it was developed by representatives of over 68 organizations, under the direction of the American Legion on June 14, 1934, better known as Flag Day.

The United States Flag Code lists all the dos and don'ts when displaying the American flag, how to properly salute it, how it is to be used in mourning and the standards of respect we need to observe such as ...

... Never dipping the flag to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation.

... Never using the flag for any advertising purpose, which also includes not printing the flag on anything that is to be discarded after use, such as paper napkins or boxes.

... When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff needs to be firmly attached to the chassis of the vehicle or the right fender of said vehicle.

While these rules and regulations of the United States Flag Code are federal law, there is no penalty for failure to comply and is not usually enforced.  Which is unfortunate.  Apparently, our Supreme Court believes that enforcement of the Flag Code conflicts with the Frist Amendment right to freedom of speech.  If these violations were enforced, then there would be no reason for the AFCVP, a group which has only me as a member.  (Please see my blog of May 31, 2010 for more information on becoming a member of the AFCVP.)

The United States Flag Code also governs the Pledge of Allegiance.  The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister.  The original Pledge was published in a children's magazine as part of the National Public School Celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in America.

Below is the original version written by Mr. Bellamy:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands,
One nation indivisible, under with liberty and justice for all.

By 1923, the National Flag Conference changed the words 'my Flag' to 'the Flag of the United States'.  This change was made so that new immigrants would be clear that their loyalties were now to the United States and not to their countries of birth.  The words 'of America' were added a year later.

The Pledge of Allegiance has gone through four revisions since 1892, with the most recent being the words 'under God', which was added in 1954.  All Congressional sessions open with the Pledge as well as local government meetings and other meetings such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Rotary Club and Lions Club, just to name a few.

The version that was formally adopted by Congress as the official national pledge on June 22, 1942, reads as follows:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of America,
And to the republic for which it stands,
One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Another interesting fact about the Pledge of Allegiance is the Bellamy salute.  The Bellamy salute was invented by James B. Upham and is described as being similar to the Nazi salute.  Because of that reason, President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture to be used by civilians during the Pledge as well as during the singing of the National Anthem.  Those in uniform should salute, rather than do the hand-over-their-heart move.

In 1948, Louis A. Bowman, started controversy by adding the words 'under God'.  He maintained that the wording came from President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, although not all manuscript of the Gettysburg Address contain 'under God'.  The Knights of Columbus began adding the same words in 1951, and by 1952 they presented a resolution to the President, the Vice President and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives asking that the words be added.  Legislation was passed on Flag Day in 1954 to incorporate 'under God' into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Through the years, since 1954, there have been many lawsuits about the teaching and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.  Today about half of our schools encourage students to recite the pledge.  Which, in my opinion, is about half too few.

Have the BEST 4th of July ever!
~ Dorothy

Thank you, Wikipedia, for our history lesson.
Thank you, Teri, for the idea for today's blog and for being my greatest cheerleader!

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