The Pledge of Allegiance and the Bellamy Salute,
One of the traditions of school children across America, the daily ritual of pledging allegiance to the flag goes back to 1892 when a Christian socialist minister named Francis Bellamy first published “The Pledge of Allegiance”. At the time America was becoming more diversified as immigrants from Europe and Asia flooded the country. In addition there was still a divide between North and South left over from the Civil War. The institution of pledging allegiance to the flag began as a way of uniting the various people’s of the United States under a set of common ideals. Before Bellamy there were a number of salutes. However Bellamy’s pledge was so simple and to the point that by the turn of the century it became the standard salute across the country. Direct and to the point, the Pledge of Allegiance was meant to be easy to memorize and fast to recite,
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
(Note the phrase “under God” is missing. It was added later to the Bellamy Pledge by Act of Congress in 1954)
Along with the pledge, Bellamy included a special salute to go with it. Today the traditional salute is to place your hand or your hat over your heart. Bellamy’s salute involved holding the arm out at an angle with either the palm down and the hand flat, or with the palm up as if grasping for an object. The Bellamy solute was based on the Roman salute, a solute that 18th and 19th century people believed the ancient Romans used. During the late 19th and early 20th century, there was a cultural obsession with ancient Greece and Rome, thus influencing architecture, art, and various other aspects of American culture.
The Bellamy salute became the standard salute for pledging allegiance up to the 1940’s. During the 1930’s the Italian Fascist party and the German Nazi Party adopted similar if not identical salutes based on the Roman Salute. Thus when America entered World War II the Bellamy Salute was dropped and replaced with the now common hand over the heart salute.