Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yet Another Tuesday. We had a city council meeting tonight, a regular session as opposed to a work session. Once again attendance was sparse - just the press and city employees in the audience. No, I take that back, a representative of the Ministerial Alliance was there to present the invocation, but then he left before we got past the Pledge of Allegiance .

And now to expose how oddly my mind works, mentioning the Pledge of Allegiance brought forth the full power of trivia. One of the questions in the Trivia Contest was "What did Francis Bellamy write for the quadricentennial celebration of Columbus Day in 1892?" Admittedly, this stumped most of the teams (ours included). Have you guessed with the extra context of the first paragraph? That's right, Francis Bellamy penned the original Pledge of Allegiance we all recited through out grade school (and before every city council meeting here). Now that this bit of trivia has been embedded in my mind, I'll probably never forget it.

The interesting part is the background and the revisions the pledge has undergone. The original pledge, published in 1892, read
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
with the (to) added in October of 1892. Mr. Bellamy had originally thought about including the word equality along with liberty and justice, but he realized that at the time the school superintendents were dead set against racial and sexual equality.

The back story here is that in 1892 Francis Bellamy was chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education as a part of the National Education Association .  That is why he was writing the Pledge in the first place. Isn't interesting how the battle for equal rights coming in the next century was already apparent in the half century following the civil war. It is painful to see how the rights of women were lumped with the rights of Negroes and denied without thought.

The American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution led a charge to change the wording at the 1923 and 1924 National Flag Conference . They changed the Pledge's words, 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.'  Bellamy was still alive at the time and disliked the change, going so far as to protest against it. He was ignored.

In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus , added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Francis Bellamy had died in 1931. So no one knows what his feelings may have been about the change.

Now some 116 years after the original was written, we recite the modified version:
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.
I don't know, which version do you like the best?


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