The other day at lunch we were talking about the Pledge of Allegiance for some reason and wondering when it was written. I thought it was written in the 1800’s. So I looked it up on my iPod’s copy of Wikipedia. I was barely right: it was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. The article has a good history of the Pledge. It has been revised several times since. In 1923, they added “of the United States” apparently so immigrants would know they were pledging to our flag and not their old flag. Still not specific enough, I guess, they added “of America” the following year. I guess there was a lot of confusion about which United States people were pledging their allegiance. It wasn’t until 1954 that “under God” was added.
Anyway, the thing that really cracked me up was reading about a salute that was added to the Pledge by Bellamy himself, called the Bellamy salute or just the “flag salute.” He thought people should stretch out their right hand upwards towards the flag with their palm down as they began reciting the Pledge. This continued to be practiced until 1939 when President Roosevelt decided it looked entirely too much like a Hitler salute and instructed people to put their right hand over their heart instead.