Winter 2018

by SKI SCHANHER Thoughts on Pledge of Allegiance PATRIOTISM: “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.” Remember homeroom activities, during your elementary and junior high school (now, middle school) days when the entire class stood before our beloved American Flag, held our hands over our heart, and collectively recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America? Initially, we had to learn the words to the Pledge so that we could participate in that brief patriotic moment of devotion to our nation. By formally acknowledging our loyalty to our country, the echoes of the words of the Pledge gradually penetrated our heart and mind and we soon grasped the meaning of that moment. Yes, as a young student, the purpose of speaking the Pledge in unison did not mean to us then what it means today, but at least, we were exposed daily to commitment of the patriotic cause of those who sacrificed for our freedoms that we enjoy today. The “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag” is the most solemn patriotic promise and understand- ing that a loyal citizen of the United States of America can formally commit. The original Pledge was composed by Civil War veteran, George Balch in 1887. His Pledge read as fol- lows: “We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag.” With Balch’s desire to educate and encourage school children to develop a love and loyalty to our United States, he devised a program, in con- junction with the federal government and select- ed private entities, to distribute American flags to every classroom in every school. Many schools embraced the national program which was also adopted by the Daughters of the American Revo- lution and other Civil War veteran’s associations. In August 1892, Francis Bellamy, a Baptist pastor from New York, composed a replacement pledge, citing Balch’s pledge as “too juvenile and 14 | WINTER 2018 ON A MISSION