With hands over their hearts, young earnest faces turned toward the American flag, all kindergarteners of Peters Elementary School recited the Pledge of Allegiance during an assembly about the Pledge.
Karen Bandzi, president of the Ladies Auxiliary to R.W. Fritzinger VFW Post 7215 of Walnutport, showed them a video about how the Pledge of Allegiance came into being, as told by President Theodore Roosevelt to a classroom, and the meaning behind the words.
The students learned that the Pledge was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, in 1892, to be a part of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. It originally was worded, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
There were changes to the Pledge that occurred over the years:
Ÿ 1923 – The National Flag Conference called for the words "my Flag" to be changed to "the Flag of the United States."
Ÿ 1924 – The words "of America" were added.
Ÿ 1942 – The first salute in 1892 was called the Bellamy salute with the hand outstretched toward the flag, palm down, and ended with the palm up. Because the Bellamy salute and later the Nazi salute were so similar, in 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute during the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem in the United States, instead of the Bellamy salute.
Ÿ 1948 – Louis A. Bowman, chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, was the first to initiate the addition of "under God" to the Pledge.
Ÿ 1954 – It was suggested by George MacPherson Docherty, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that the phrase "under God" be incorporated in the Pledge. President Eisenhower acted on his suggestion the next day, Feb. 8, 1954, and a bill to that effect was introduced to Congress and passed the necessary legislation. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.
At the closing of the assembly, Bandzi picked two students, Kaitlyn Getz and Zachary Lehman from Miss DeFrain's kindergarten class, to come lead the others in giving the Pledge.
Assisted by Mary Beth Dougherty, a staff assistant from PA Rep. Dave Argall's office, they gave each student a Pledge of Allegiance pencil, an American flag and a Young American Award certificate.
Bandzi hopes that this program helps students to understand the importance behind the words of the Pledge so when they recite it, they know it is an oath of loyalty to their country and they learn to recite it with honor and reverence.