While most of us have said it at one time or another, we barely know how the pledge came about or any of the history behind it.
Francis Bellamy wrote the original pledge back in 1892 while working for a nationally distributed magazine called the Youth's Companion. The idea was to promote the magazine's desire to have a flag posted at every school in the country.
As part of the original pledge, a salute was to be performed while reciting it. A traditional military style salute was to be followed with the saluting arm stretched out in front of them, palm up. The salute was too close to the same one later used in Nazi Germany so FDR had it removed, and replaced with putting the right hand over one's heart.
Congress officially adopted it in 1942. Since its creation, the pledge has been altered a few times. Its original text is as follows:
"I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
After the fourth revision in 1954 the pledge read as follows: "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."
The pledge has been a source of controversy in one way or another for much of its existence. The initial idea was to encourage patriotism to the United States. While this task has been largely accomplished, it has been the result of numerous controversies over the years involving issues like separation of church and state along with religious persecution and the freedom of speech.
The words `under God' were not official added until 1954. Supposedly, it was done out of respect to Abraham Lincoln and his inclusion of the words in the Gettysburg Address. The nation was also dealing with the `red scare' and communism and was looking to differentiate itself from communist's states.
While the religious connotation has been the crux of most of the legal action taken against the pledge, the problem has been the implied requirement that all students must recite it. This has resulted in a number of cases since 2000 that have effectively set a legal precedent making it illegal to require the pledge be recited by anyone.