Monday, February 18, 2013

Changing Allegiance

           It’s quite a while since I’ve had lunch with an organization that begins by standing for a Pledge to the Flag.  After that, the singing of “America the Beautiful” and a tactfully inter-denominational Grace, we had a good meal and good conversation.  At one point I directed my remark to the woman on my right, the one with the most grey hair,
“Well, the Pledge has certainly changed over the years.”  Yes,  she said, she remembered it  before “under God” was added in the Eisenhower years.
“And what about that Hitler Salute?” I asked.
 Blank stare.  She wasn’t as old as I thought.  Nobody at the table was old enough.  No one else remembered.  But when I had said The Pledge just a few minutes before, my  muscles automatically tightened on that sixth word, “I pledge allegiance to the FLAG…”  and my right arm almost shot out, the way we were taught as children.
          It wasn’t until the late 1930s that school districts became uncomfortable with what had become that Heil Salute, and not until 1942, months after Pearl Harbor, that Congress officially retired it.


  1. When we were in school during the 60s, we put our right hands 'over our hearts' when saying the Pledge at the start of the school day.

  2. David and I are apparently about the same age.--Also, Art Linkletter included a child's creative mangling of the old Pledge (before "under God" was added) in Kids Say the Darndest Things: "One naked individual with liberty and justice for all."

  3. Long after I should have known my left from my right, I didn't. The only way I could figure it out was to pretend I was about to say the Pledge - my right hand would automatically go to my heart.