Students reflect on meaning of the pledge of allegiance

By Geoffrey Morris
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

Stuttgart High School student cadets stand at attention for the Pledge of Allegiance in (ret.) Sgt. Raul Piñon’s JROTC class. Photo by Geoffrey Morris, Stuttgart Citizen Volunteer.

National Pledge of Allegiance Day is celebrated every Dec. 28 and gives Americans an opportunity to reflect on the history of our pledge.

The story of the pledge began in 1885 when Civil War veteran George T. Balch worked with several charities, such as: the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Grand Army of the Republic, to pen a vow to the American Flag. It read, “We give our heads and our hearts to God and to our country; one country, one language, one flag.”

Balch’s pledge had a short run in some schools before Francis Bellamy wrote the first version of what is today known as the Pledge of Allegiance. Bellamy’s words were written to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in America and was quickly used in schools around the country.

Bellamy’s original version read, “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The pledge has been revised several times over the years, with the most notable edits to include replacing “my flag” with “the flag” and adding “under God” in 1954. Congress officially adopted the pledge of allegiance in 1942.

More than 60 years later, students at the Stuttgart Elementary School still start their mornings by reciting the historic words. For some, this routine is an important part of their day.

“It helps to remember America even while we’re over here [in Germany] and it connects us,” said Stuttgart Elementary School 5th Grader, Karolina Aguirre. Fellow classmate Gretchen Jensen added, the pledge reminds her that the U.S. is a country that believes in justice. Stuttgart High School student, Jack Engleke, said he recites the pledge to remember the sacrifices of others.

“The Pledge of Allegiance represents the freedom and ideals that America is built on,” said Engleke. “I’m able to enjoy my life because others gave theirs for my freedom and I celebrate them every day by reciting the honorable pledge.”