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Why do Students Recite the Pledge of Allegiance?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated: May 17, 2024

The Pledge of Allegiance is a short speech that goes: "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." In the United States, it is often recited at public events and it is commonly recited at public schools, especially elementary schools. To recite it, school children are meant to stand facing the American flag with their right hand over their heart.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by a Baptist minister and socialist author named Francis Bellamy. Bellamy wrote the pledge as part of an advertising campaign for a magazine called Youth's Companion, as a way to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus' journey to America. Bellamy's original text, however, did not include any reference to God.

The inclusion of the phrase "under God" was inspired by a Catholic group called the Knights of Columbus, who added the phrase to their own recitals in 1951, and attempted to make it a formal part of the pledge. However, the Pledge of Allegiance was not officially changed to include the phrase until 1954, when Minister George Docherty recited a sermon about it while president Eisenhower was in attendance. Docherty and Eisenhower spoke after the sermon, and Eisenhower introduced legislation to modify the Pledge of Allegiance the next day. Since that time, "under God" has been officially recognized as a part of the text.

However, many people dispute the allowance of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. They argue that, because the pledge is recited in public schools and at public events, it breaks the First Amendment claim of separation of church and state. In 2002, a case was brought to the Supreme Court by Michael Newdow, an atheist who did not want his daughter to have to recite the words "under God" in her classroom. However, the Supreme Court ultimately claimed that Newdow did not have the right to bring the case to trial, because he was divorced and was not the parent with primary custody. Because of this, they did not have to make a judgment regarding whether it represented a breach of the First Amendment.

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Discussion Comments
By anon210542 — On Aug 30, 2011

Has it prevented the people from becoming more selfish and to care only about money?

By anon175382 — On May 12, 2011

i agree that the pledge of alliance is a good thing to do. i believe that that it would help bring the nation closer and make younger kids think more about our nation instead of other things. it would help them take pride in our country and strive for success for our country to move forward.

By SauteePan — On Apr 08, 2011

@Sunny27 - I really respect what you're saying, but I can see it from the other point of view too. For instance, think about if they suddenly changed it to say "One nation under Buddha" (or any other religious entity you'd like to name). All I'm saying is, though I personally agree with you, I can certainly see why it would upset some people.

By Sunny27 — On Apr 06, 2011

It is a little difficult for me to understand what the pledge of allegiance controversy is all about. Ever since I can remember in school we always read the pledge of allegiance and my kids so do in private school as well.

I think the pledge of alliance signifies a common respect that we have for the United States as a nation. This nation was founded as a Judeo-Christian nation and even our money says, ‘In God we trust.” What do you all think?

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