The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy. It was first given wide publicity through the official program of the National Public Schools Celebration of Columbus Day, which was printed in The Youth's Companion of September 8, 1892, and at the same time sent out in leaflet form to schools throughout the country. School children first recited the Pledge of Allegiance this way:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."
"The flag of the United States" replaced the words "my Flag" in 1923 because some foreign-born people might have in mind the flag of the country of their birth instead of the United States flag. A year later, "of America" was added after "United States."
No form of the Pledge received official recognition by Congress until June 22, 1942, when the Pledge was formally included in the U.S. Flag Code. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954, when Congress passed a law, which added the words "under God" after "one nation."
Originally, the pledge was said with the right hand in the so-called "Bellamy Salute," with the right hand resting first outward from the chest, then the arm extending out from the body. Once Hitler came to power in Europe, some Americans were concerned that this position of the arm and hand resembled the Nazi or Fascist salute. In 1942 Congress also established the current practice of rendering the pledge with the right hand over the heart.
The Flag Code specifies that any future changes to the pledge would have to be with the consent of the President.
"I pledge allegiance"
(I promise to be true)
"to the flag"
(to the symbol of our country)
"of the United States of America"
(each state that has joined to make our country)
"and to the Republic"
(a republic is a country where the people choose others to make laws for them -- the government is for the people)
"for which it stands,"
(the flag means the country)
(a single country)
(the people believe in a supreme being)
(the country cannot be split into parts)
"with liberty and justice"
(with freedom and fairness)
(for each person in the country)