Seventy-six years ago, on December 28, 1945, the Pledge of Allegiance was made the official national pledge to the US flag by an act of Congress. Written in 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance has undergone several revisions from its original version, which had its first organized recital on October 12, 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World.
However, it wasn’t until almost nine years after Congress made it official that the version of the Pledge that most Americans recite today came into being.
On June 14, 1954 (Flag Day), at the request of President Dwight D Eisenhower, the Pledge was amended to include the words “under God” by a Joint Resolution of Congress, creating the Pledge of Allegiance recited by most Americans today.
“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 United States Flag Code states that the Pledge “should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and veterans may render the military salute in the manner provided for persons in uniform.”
The Pledge of Allegiance is an oath of loyalty to the United States of America, which is represented by the flag. All local government meetings level and sporting events start with the Pledge of Allegiance being recited, and Congressional sessions are also opened with the Pledge.
The words and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance have caused controversy and criticism on numerous occasions throughout its history, especially the phrase “under God”, and there are some who would like to see those words removed, or the entire Pledge eliminated. I pray that does not happen.
Today, the Pledge of Allegiance is often used as a means of protest by those who have no appreciation of what the flag represents or knowledge of what the Pledge truly stands for. They do not understand that it is the liberties and freedoms that the "republic for which it stands" guarantees, and the lives sacrificed defending the flag and those rights, that gives them the right to protest without fear.
The next time you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on what it is you are pledging to do and why it is so important, now more than ever.
The following explanation of the meaning of the Pledge was given by comedian Red Skelton on January 14, 1969 is the best I’ve ever heard and is well worth taking a moment to listen to.