Why Do We Say The Pledge Of Allegiance? The Origin And Meaning

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 12, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Oct 23, 2021
why do we say the pledge of allegiance
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

Many people think that the Pledge of Allegiance to the national flag supersedes the U.S. Constitution as the foundation of American patriotism.

It was sent out in leaflets form to schools throughout the United States. Every school student recites the Pledge Of Allegiance, irrespective of religion.

The original form read as “I pledge my allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands on, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In the year 1923, the term “my Flag” was replaced with "the Flag of the United States" in the original form.

The reason behind this was that people from foreign countries might have the flag of their birth country in mind instead of the United States.

In 1924, “Of America” was added after "the United States" in the Pledge Of Allegiance. It was in June 1942 that the pledge received recognition; before that, the pledge was not officially recognized by Congress in any form whatsoever.

In 1945, the Pledge Of Allegiance was adopted under the present name and form.

Congress was asked to add the words ‘under god,’ by the incumbent President Eisenhower in 1954, and on the Flag Day in the same year, the law was passed, and these words were added to the pledge.

After you are done reading about the Pledge of Allegiance that all school students must make in the school, do read about why do we pay taxes and why do we have laws.

What is the Pledge of Allegiance?

The Pledge Of Allegiance is a promise made by citizens of the United States that they will stay loyal to the country.

The Pledge Of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy in August 1892. It was initially published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892.

Initially, the pledge was said with the right hand in Bellamy salute. After the words ‘to the flag’ had been stated, the arm was supposed to be raised in the direction of the flag of the United States.

When Hitler had obtained power in Europe, many Americans were concerned that the spreading of arm and hand position had resembled the Nazi salute.

So in 1942, Congress established the current practice of taking the pledge with the right hand over the heart. The Flag Code has clearly established that any further changes to the pledge would have to be taken with the consent of the President of the United States Of America.

A judgment passed by Justice Robert Jackson that bars public schools from forcing the students to say the pledge reiterates the importance of freedom of opinion.

Moreover, in 1943, US Supreme Court ruled that if any person is required to say the pledge, it will be a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Reasons To Say The Pledge Of Allegiance

Did you know that the phrase 'the Flag of the United States of America' was not incorporated in the Pledge of Allegiance till 1923?

For millions of school students in the United States, their day starts by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in the morning where they stand with their hands over their hearts in front of the United States flag and say the pledge. This pledge was introduced by Francis Bellamy in 1892 but is in fact not an extremely old ritual.

There are tons of reasons why we could say the Pledge Of Allegiance.

The constitution of the country outlines a specific oath to be recited by the President of the United States, as well as witnesses in the court. This oath is binding and they are compelled to speak only the truth.

However, during the first 100 years of the existence of the country, most citizens were not required to recite the oath. Even children were not required to take such pledges.

The meaning of the word allegiance is loyalty.

Being an American citizen means you should be loyal and patriotic towards your country, defend the land and take pride in what your country stands for. In the Pledge Of Allegiance, it is stated that the U.S is indivisible, meaning the people of the U.S cannot be divided.

The soldiers who have fought for America stand up and recite the pledge with pride and dignity for the constitution of the United States. It is essential to recognize the sacrifices and respect the sacrifices made by men and women to preserve the rights of American citizens.

I pledge allegiance to the flag.

Why was the Pledge of Allegiance written?

The flag moment from the decade of 1880s could tell us about the origins of the pledge but it is not possible to understand it without the context of civil war. The pledge first appeared in the Youth's Companion to celebrate Christopher Columbus' voyage to America.

Just as national flags were present everywhere, ‘loyalty tests’ started spreading throughout the country.

Many individuals were arrested on accounts of disloyalty but they could get the pardon if they gave in to the ‘Oath of Allegiance’, which swears to protect, defend and support the constitution of the United States as well as the government and bear commitment and honesty towards it as well.

Making such oaths made real patriotic Americans stand out from those who had questionable devotion.

This practice was limited to Confederate soldiers. “cult of the flag” that came about after nearly 20 years began a wish in citizens of the country to have all other fellow citizens show more honor to the flag of the United States.

Schools were the first site where this impulse was started.

Several flag-related ceremonies were held for school children to encourage patriotism and increase their respect towards the republic, irrespective of their religion. By 1892, Congress declared October 21 as ‘Discovery Day’ and asked for its celebrations accompanied with suitable school exercise.

Youth’s Companion was a magazine that developed particular exercises and subsequently printed these in its subsequent issues. These exercises included presidential proclamations, flag hosting by veterans, speeches, and salutes to the flag.

This happened to be the initial version of the Pledge Of Allegiance, but neither the name of the country nor that of God was mentioned herein.

The Pledge Of Allegiance had been created for this particular event, and the main interest was increasing the sale of the magazine. This pledge would have turned insignificant if it was not for the apprehensions around the migrants from other countries had started gripping native American citizens.

Utilizing the pledge of allegiance in public schools proved to be an important aspect of the process of increasing loyalty to the country.

War only increased this patriotic feeling among the citizens of America. The students were required to speak the Pledge Of Allegiance at the start of their schools after New York adopted the Flag Salute Law.

During a conference in Washington, DC, the National Americanism Commission in the year 1923, decided that a single flag code was needed.

In recent times, the US Supreme Court said that people have the right to not recite the Pledge Of Allegiance, yet almost all of the states in the US mandate setting time aside for reciting the pledge. The question comes up that should students be required to pledge their allegiance?

The simple answer is no; public school students could not be compelled to recite the Pledge Of Allegiance in schools.

In the year 1943, the Supreme Court determined the First Amendment protects a student’s right to not engage in certain speech. The First Amendment protects people from being punished by the government for engaging in certain speeches.

Meaning Of The Pledge of Allegiance Line By Line

Every line in Pledge Of Allegiance has a significant meaning behind it. Here is the line-by-line meaning of the Pledge Of Allegiance.

“I pledge allegiance to the”

The meanings of pledge and allegiance are promise and loyalty. This line states the commitment towards the country of America.

“flag of the United States of America.”

The American flag represents 50 states and 13 original colonies.

‘And to the Republic for which it stands.’

The meaning of republic is a country where the leader/government is elected. This line states the loyal commitment to the elected government.

“One Nation, Under God”

The meaning of a nation is a large number of people united by common history, culture, or language inhabiting a country. Under god here means under the care of whichever god you believe in. This line states the unity of America.

“Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The meaning of indivisible is not being able to be separated. Justice means fairness. This line states that Americans cannot be divided, they will be free of restrictions and everyone will be treated equally.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do we say the Pledge of Allegiance then why not take a look at why do we lie, or why do w

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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