Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Under God

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. [Francis Bellamy’s original Pledge, adopted in 1892]
The Supreme Court’s current focus on the Affordable Care Act led to a discovery today. The issue in that act is a mandate requiring every person not already insured to buy health insurance. But does the government have the right, under the Interstate Commerce Act, to compel anyone to buy something? My dark musings on  this subject led me to mutter, “One nation, under Market, infinitely divided, with competition among all…”

So then, later, I looked up the history of the Pledge and discovered, with some surprise, that I was already a resident here when, in 1954, the two words in my title were added. 1954. Yes, indeed. By then the Pledge had undergone four changes. The first came in 1892 when the word to was added: “…to my flag and to the republic…” Note that flag and republic have lost their capital. In 1923, came another change: “…to the flag of the United States…” In 1924 (oops, we left something out) came the addition: “…of America…” In 1954, finally, that under God.

Pledge recital circa 1941
Amusingly, Francis Bellamy was a Baptist minister. Amusingly, the pledge was recited with a salute—and, ironically, with the arm extended forward, palm down. Later the palm was turned the other way (can’t be doing a “Heil” in the Land of the Free). Finally came the current salute of hand-over-heart, instituted by the U.S. Congress. This came as an amendment of the Flag Code, first passed June 22, 1942 and amended (oops, left something out) on December 22.

Endless contradictions. The U.S. Congress can “compel” hand gestures. Under a Constitution which prohibits establishment of religion, thus gives firm standing (with others) to atheism, we must say “under God” when Pledging Allegiance. But, some argue, Congress cannot compel anyone to buy health insurance. It might be time to revise the Pledge along the lines that I was muttering aloud.
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Picture from Wikipedia commons (link).

1 comment:

  1. The above picture of American school kids reciting the Pledge in 1941, MUST HAVE BEEN DOCTORED, in my view. It reminds me too much of the German schools I attended in the early 40s. I once tried to support my right outstretched arm with my left during the singing of the lengthy national anthem, a no-no! I was called out for a very stern and public rebuke for such disrespect...

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