Oct 12, 1892 The Pledge of Allegiance is Recited in Schools


The Pledge of Allegiance was first recited in schools on October 12, 1892. This was part of a promotion by The Youth’s Companion magazine for the World’s Columbian Exposition, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Leaflets containing part of Francis Bellamy’s Pledge of Allegiance were sent to schools across the country, and on that day, over 10,000 children recited the verse together.

The Pledge of Allegiance, a patriotic oath that has been a part of American life since 1892, and it is recited in many schools across the United States every day by students standing with their hands over their hearts. Despite its ubiquity, it is not a legal requirement for students to recite it. This is due to the protection of free speech under the First Amendment.

In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that students couldn't be forced to salute the U.S. flag or say the pledge because doing so would violate their First Amendment rights. The court stated that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

As of now, forty-seven states in the U.S. require the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in public schools, with varying exemptions for students or staff who wish to opt out. The states have varying levels of exemptions — for example, Florida and Texas allow for a student to be exempted from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance only if a parent or guardian consents.

Legal challenges involving the Pledge of Allegiance continue to pop up from time to time, with more recent cases centering on humanists or religious freedom groups trying to eliminate the phrase “under God” from the pledge. That phrase wasn’t added to the pledge until 1954, during the Cold War, when members of Congress reportedly wanted to emphasize differences between the U.S. and the atheistic Soviet Union.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a significant part of American school culture, its recitation is not mandatory for all students and is subject to various state laws and exemptions.

On this day in history, Oct 12th, we are reminded of this oath: 

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the from N United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
with liberty and justice for all.

This is the version of the Pledge as it is most commonly recited today. The words "under God" were added in 1954. 
Image sourced from National Defense Committee

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