“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.”
Where Did We Go Wrong?
I think the real problem lies in the fact that people have forgotten what the Pledge actually means. It’s not about blindly following orders or blindly obeying the government. It is not a political statement nor an endorsement of any particular government policy. Reciting the Pledge is NOT a pledge to a president, religion, political party, or politician.
Instead, the Pledge of Allegiance is a statement of belief in the principles and ideals upon which this great nation was founded— liberty and justice for all. It’s about having pride in our nation and believing that, despite its flaws, it’s still the best country on earth. The Pledge is a promise to be loyal to the flag, to the United States of America, and it is a promise to defend the rights and freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Our shared commitment to the values enshrined in the Pledge reminds us that, despite our differences, we are all Americans.
A Brief History of the Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance was originally written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a pastor from Upstate New York. Bellamy’s Pledge was meant to be a unifying statement for a country that was still reeling from the Civil War. In fact, it was originally published in a children’s magazine called “The Youth’s Companion” with the intention of having it recited in schools across the country. The Pledge was first recited publicly on October 12, 1892, by over 10,000 children and adults during a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in America.
In its original form, it read:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Since then, it has been changed several times to what it is today. In 1923, the words “the flag of the United States of America” were added to the Pledge. In 1954, in response to the Cold War and the threat of communism, President Dwight D Eisenhower signed a law adding the words “under God” to let the world know that America was protected by God. Eisenhower was quoted as saying that the added words were “spiritual weapons which will forever be our country’s most powerful resource.”
“The Pledge of Allegiance reflects the truth
that faith in God has played a significant role
in America since the days
of the founding of our country.”
-Randy Neugebauer (Former U.S. Representative of the 19th District of Texas)
The Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Today
Today, forty-seven states in the U.S. “require” the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in public schools. However, there are varying exemptions for students or staff who wish to opt out. So really, it is not required. Only three states—Hawaii, Vermont, and Wyoming—do not have any laws related to the pledge. While the words of the Pledge may seem rote or even outdated, there is value in having kids say the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. Here are four reasons why.
1. The Pledge Instills a Sense of Patriotism.
In a time when there is so much divisiveness, it is crucial to instill a sense of pride in America and its values. The Pledge of Allegiance is a way to do that. When kids recite the Pledge, they reaffirm their commitment to the United States and its principles. For many schoolchildren, the Pledge is their first exposure to patriotism. Patriotism is an essential quality for all citizens to possess, but it is especially important for our youngest citizens.
As future leaders, it is crucial that kids have a strong sense of love and loyalty for their country. Patriotism instills in children a sense of pride and belonging and teaches them to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. When kids feel proud of their country, they are more likely to take an interest in its history and culture. They will also be more likely to participate in civic activities and vote when they reach adulthood.
2. The Pledge Fosters a Sense of Unity.
When everyone says the Pledge together, it helps to foster a sense of community and togetherness. This is an important lesson for kids to learn, as it can help them understand that we are all part of one nation regardless of our individual differences. It is a way for children to feel connected to something larger than themselves and their immediate surroundings.
The Pledge of Allegiance is a powerful symbol of unity in a world that is too often divided along the lines of race, religion, and politics. It reminds us that, despite our differences, we are all part of one nation under God– and one community. By instilling these values in our children at an early age, the Pledge helps to create a sense of unity that can last a lifetime.
3. The Pledge Teaches Respect and Appreciation.
To stand up for the Pledge is to show respect for the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It takes only a few seconds to stand up and say the words, but it is a powerful gesture that reminds us of the sacrifices made by generations of Americans. Every time we recite the words “liberty and justice for all,” we honor those who have fought for our country and vowed to uphold its ideals. We are reminding ourselves of the price that has been paid for our freedoms, and we are pledging to do our part to protect those freedoms.
Freedom isn’t free, and it is important for kids to understand that. Through the Pledge, children can learn about and appreciate the sacrifices that have been made for them. Without those brave and honorable sacrifices, the life we so freely enjoy today would look much different. When you see your child standing proudly with their hand over their heart, pledging allegiance to our flag, you’ll know that you’ve instilled in them a deep respect for our country and all that it stands for.
4. The Pledge Teaches About Our Country’s History.
Saying the Pledge of Allegiance provides an opportunity for kids to learn about our country’s history. The words of the Pledge echo the sentiments of the Declaration of Independence, affirming that all people are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
By repeating these words on a daily basis, children internalize these values and come to understand what it means to be an American. The words contained within the Pledge offer a snapshot into America’s past – from its early days all the way up through present times. Learning about this history helps children understand how they fit into America’s story and why they should be proud citizens.
Instead of seeing the Pledge as some sort of “nationalistic indoctrination,” we should see it as a reminder of the ideals that this country was founded on – liberty, justice, and equality for all. The beauty of our country is that we are free to voice our opinions, even if they are unpopular. But somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost sight of what it means to be an American.
To be an American is to belong to a nation with a rich history and a bright future. It means having the opportunity to pursue your dreams and make your voice heard. It means being part of a community united by common values and shared traditions. To be an American is to be part of a proud and diverse nation that is continuously striving to improve. Above all, it means being part of a country that is constantly evolving and moving forward. So next time you hear the Pledge of Allegiance being recited, I hope you’ll join in and remember what it truly means to be an American.
This post is sponsored by the Kids Guide to Our One Nation Under God. For information about this product, please click here.