I Pledge Allegiance…

I pledge allegiance to the flag
At school, with all my friends
While one girl sits there silently,
And one boy just pretends
And three don’t mention “under God”,
Just roll their eyes and wait
And two more use the pledge to sneak
To class a little late.
There’s one or two who think it’s cool
To monitor the rest
To see who says the pledge; who loves
America the best
But most of us just wonder
Who this pledge is really for
And count the days till we don’t have
To say it any more.

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the publication of the original pledge of allegiance to the flag, which went:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Strange… I find out that it was 1954 when “under God” was officially added. That means I should never have heard it as “one nation indivisible”… but I distinctly remember, in grade school, saying “one nation indivisible”, and being confused (by the change, not the concept, at the time) when “under God” started showing up. Did I have subversive (read: smart) teachers?


  1. Theresa says

    As a (recent) atheist teacher who has worked in the public school system for 17 years, I stand for the pledge and just say the original parts. I am silent at the “under god” part. I don’t think the students notice. To them, it is just a bunch of words they mumble along with the morning announcements.

  2. crowepps says

    Was amused on the first day of school to be filling out a ‘people to contact’ form and to have the teacher who had asked me to do so attempt to stop my writing because The Pledge was being read over the intercom by the principal.

    I ignored her and kept writing; I’m 64, and no longer can be pressured to take loyalty oaths.

  3. Scott M says

    I’ve heard that America is the only Western democracy to insist on a loyalty oath. Not exactly an element of “freedom” is it?

  4. TCC says

    I’m a high school teacher, and I don’t even say the pledge, in part because I don’t like loyalty oaths and in part because I want to give my tacit support to those students who feel uncomfortable saying the pledge (the ones who want to say it already know they’re supported, since it comes over the intercom).

    What’s more, this is my fourth year of teaching, and the number of students who say the pledge is almost always in the minority. I’ve had days, in fact, where the only student of mine saying the pledge is the one leading it on the intercom. Even the ones who do put a lot of stock in patriotism seem to recognize that the pledge is useless bullshit.

  5. grumpyoldfart says

    The 1950s American politicians didn’t call on god because they thought he would help America. They just wanted to demonise the Russians: “We’ve got a god and they haven’t, so it’s OK to hate them.”

    The last thing the politicians expected was that a bunch of ratbag Christians would jump on the bandwagon and takeover.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

  6. sumdum says

    If people took oaths of allegiance serious, would the US even have declared independence from Britain ? I mean, isn’t that sort of thing literally breaking the oath and ignoring it? I don’t see what use an oath has at all.

  7. The Ridger says

    @sumdum: its use is tribal, marking who is one of Us and who is one of Them – however those are defined.

  8. sceptinurse says

    I am also old enough to not be able to remember saying it any other way but I don’t recall saying it with the “under god” part until I went to a christian day school in 1965. In the public schools I attended until then we said it without that part.

  9. Rodney Nelson says

    The pledge of allegiance reminds me of the episode in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 about the great loyalty oath crusade.

  10. Pteryxx says

    ironic that they butted into “one nation indivisible” and divided that phrase by stuffing “under god” into it. Prophetic, almost.

  11. says

    I graduated from a high school on a military base in Germany in 2009. I honestly don’t remember being obligated to say the pledge until after 9/11. Not only that, but we underwent a whole system of “patriotic indoctrination…” Singing “My Country Tis of Thee,” “God Bless the USA,” and all sorts of other bullshit. I didn’t really understand it when I was younger; I was only 10 when 9/11 happened. But as I grew older I recognized that we were all being fattened up before the imminent slaughter that was to be living a “patriotic” life…the culmination of which was, of course, military service.

    It’s interesting to hear all these other stories. I didn’t know people outside of the military world had to stand up every morning and pray to the flag, too.

  12. FlyingToaster says

    My grade school (1966-1971) did not use “under god”. I was very confused when we moved and my new school included it. My parents didn’t care whether we said it or not, so I always stayed silent for the “under god” phrase. The religious whackos in HS really didn’t like it, but I didn’t give a fuck what those morans thought.

    My 4-year-old Warrior Girl is being taught the pledge in pre-K; I’ll wait to find out if she sees it as anything more than performance art.

  13. Minus says

    I remember when they inserted the god thing. I was in 7th grade at the time and I remember being puzzled by it because I thought the government was not supposed to endorse religion. I was a church goer at the time, but felt that there was something seriously wrong with putting god in the pledge. Also, I should note, I had stopped saying the oath several years previously; not because I disagreed with it, but because I thought that, once you said it, it was stupid to repeat it everyday. You either meant it or not; repeating it every days was just showing off.

  14. says

    When i was in High School only the teacher did it and sometimes a few of my fellow students because the teacher always tried to get us to do it

  15. jnorris says

    I don’t take the loyalty oath anymore. Either I am or I am not loyal. If I am a loyal American the oath doesn’t change anything. If I am not loyal, then saying the oath just allows me to hide and be more subversive.

  16. Die Anyway says

    At 64, I’m old enough to remember being taught the earlier version without “under God”. For quite a few years after the new phrase was adopted, groups would stumble over that part as some people would say it the old way and some the new way. I don’t recall there being any “pledge police” so I suspect that many teachers just kept teaching it the old way out of habit. I’d like to think that they taught the old way out of rebeliousness but that’s probably just wishful thinking. Eventually the new way of saying it predominated and only a few of us atheists and iconoclasts refuse to mouth the words. These days, for national anthem playing, pledge saying and public prayers, I pretty much just stand around bored waiting for it to be over.


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