But how did we go from Balch's 18-word commitment to our 31-word promise? Balch's commitment soon gained popularity, but it was swiftly changed. Even though it evolved over time, the Pledge of Allegiance rapidly became a fixture in classrooms across the country.
The original version of the pledge included references to "liberty" and "freedom." In 1954, these words were removed by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in an effort to make the pledge acceptable to the growing number of Americans who were beginning to feel threatened by communism. Although this change drew criticism from some historians, it has been widely accepted as necessary by most Americans today.
In addition, in 1955, the word "God" was removed by President Eisenhower because he believed it was not necessary for children to see him worship anything other than America. However, his action was quickly reversed upon public outcry. Today, students throughout the nation once again say the pledge every morning before they open their textbooks.
Finally, in 1963, Congress passed a law requiring schools to fly the flag of the United States on National Flag Day (June 14). Since then, school districts have had to choose whether or not to include the phrase "under God" in their pledges.
Although none of these changes were made lightly, they have all been considered essential by most Americans if the pledge is going to remain relevant in the world today.
In 1892, a Baptist clergyman named Francis Bellamy devised the fundamental phrase for the present allegiance pledge to America. His twenty-three-word pledge, written to be concise enough to be uttered quickly, is as follows: "I pledge my honor to the country that it may always have peace within and prosperity without. I also pledge myself to the world that we may all live together in peace."
The pledge was first used during a ceremony on May 8, 1892, at the National Baptist Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. The convention was meeting to discuss ways to improve the lives of African Americans and to urge Congress to pass civil rights legislation. The minister who presided over this meeting introduced the pledge by saying, "Let us make our voices one voice for patriotism and peace." Then he asked those attending to repeat after him: "I pledge my honor to the country that it may always have peace within and prosperity without. I also pledge myself to the world that we may all live together in peace."
This is the only language version of the pledge. There are several variations of the words "with liberty and justice for all" at the end. Some people say the whole thing aloud, while others whisper it quietly when they take the pledge.
The pastor who delivered the invocation at the beginning of the ceremony was Dr. William J. Bunting.
In 1945, the formal name of the Pledge of Allegiance was established. The most recent alteration in text occurred on Flag Day 1954, when Congress approved legislation that inserted the words "under God" after "one country."
The Pledge itself is short: I pledge allegiance to the United States of America and to each other. It means we swear an oath to the country and then affirm that we will stand together for its future.
It began as a patriotic exercise. The original version of the Pledge included references to a "so help me God" and a "God and our country." These were removed from later versions of the Pledge. Today, many people recite or sing parts of the Pledge while holding flags upside down; this is not required.
In conclusion, saying the Pledge helps define who we are as a nation. We promise our loyalty to the country and then hope to show this through our actions.
The purpose of inserting these words into the pledge is a matter of debate among scholars. Some argue that including references to God in the pledge is important for religious adherents and those who support their rights. Others claim that doing so violates the principles of separation of church and state.
Many Americans know only part of the pledge. The first line, which begins with "I pledge allegiance...", is said by everyone before they can go any further. The rest of the pledge is optional. It can be said once daily at school or during ceremonies held in honor of the flag (for example, on Independence Day).
Although it has been reported that many students refuse to say the complete pledge, there are no statistics available on this issue. However, an estimated 95% of students will say some version of the pledge every day they attend school. This occurs even though not all schools require it of their students.
Some students may refrain from saying the pledge because they believe it contains language that violates the separation of church and state. Others may feel uncomfortable saying the phrase "one nation under God".
The Pledge of Allegiance has been altered three times, with each revision adding a new phrase to the original version. In the quadricentennial year of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America, 1892, Francis Bellamy, a Baptist pastor and Christian socialist, created the first Pledge of Allegiance. It included the words "with liberty and justice for all." The second version was approved by Congress in 1954. It added the words "under God" to reflect changes made by the Supreme Court in its decisions regarding prayer in public schools and government endorsement of religion.
The third version was approved by Congress in 2002. It removes references to the nation's founders that some scholars have argued violate the constitutional prohibition on religious tests for officeholding. The third version also adds the words "in honor and memory of those who served" following the words "under God".
All three versions of the Pledge are required daily by students in every school district in the United States.
The Pledge of Allegiance has been modified several times over the years. In 1942, during World War II, the word "God" was removed from the Pledge because many people did not believe in a supreme being. Instead, it read: "I pledge my loyalty to our country, one nation under God..." After the war ended, "God" was once again included in the Pledge.
1945 In 1945, the formal name of the Pledge of Allegiance was established.
The original purpose for pledging allegiance to the American flag was to demonstrate loyalty to America and opposition to anything foreign. Today, however, many people view it as a patriotic exercise. Elaborate celebrations of the flag take place each year on Independence Day (July 4) and Veterans' Day (November 11).
In addition to being displayed during national ceremonies, the flag also plays a prominent role in other activities throughout the year. For example, many schools require students to pledge allegiance to the flag before entering classes. As another example, many businesses will ask their employees to recite the Pledge of Allegiance as part of the job application process or during company meetings.
The phrase "with liberty and justice for all" is often used in place of the word "allegiance." However, this usage is not widely accepted by authorities on official documents such as oaths and affidavits.
Many people believe that swearing an oath on the flag is an important step in a legal proceeding.