Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Pledge of Allegiance makes a good ad

Usually, the blog posts I write in my mind are not the blog posts that end up on the blog.
However, this is different.
I helped my son, who is in the fifth grade, look up the origins of the Pledge of Allegiance.
I was shocked at what I found out. Later, I wanted to cry.
Our Pledge was first a sales campaign idea.
A publisher who wanted to sell more subscriptions, gave as an incentive, an American flag to customers.
Later, that premium somehow turned into the Schoolhouse Flag Movement where they wanted to put a flag in every classroom in America. In order to promote that idea, Francis Bellamy came up with a short, 15-second pledge of allegiance. It is different from our current Pledge of Allegiance. It was published in the magazine and was an instant success, according to and several other sources.
After it was published, Bellamy criss-crossed the country and spoke to a convention of school superintendents who loved the idea of a flag in every classroom and a pledge to recite. Needless to say the group made a lot of money.
My son is a young Patriot and didn't want to learn anything negative about his country. Even in the fifth grade, he knows this is a great nation. But the assignment was a truth we had to internalize rather quickly.
I would have never guessed the Pledge of Allegiance started out as a sales campaign. I'm idealistic.

I explained to my son that Capitalism is the backbone of this country and without it, America would not have become the superpower it is today.
And that is the truth.
I didn't tell him that it hurt me to find out our Pledge of Allegiance started out as a sales campaign to sell flags to sell magazine subscriptions.
I told him it was a win win win. The flags and the pledge helped bind a young and fragile nation together and ingrained in generations to come, the need to love one's country--America--and that we all have the responsibility to be a good citizen.
I really believe it helped us as a melting pot nation to have one common goal simplified, so that even a child could understand.
And, it exemplifies Capitalism and un-demonizes the word. It is not a sin to earn a living from good ideas.
Good idea, make money, help people live a better life. (I cannot say that the Pet Rock helped me live a better live, though)
Win, win, win.
Still, it did sting to understand that a meaningful oath any Patriot takes seriously started out as a shallow idea to sell flags.
But isn't it funny how God took that idea and turned it into swaddling clothes for a nation?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Pledge is even worse than you know now. Look at the work of the noted historian Dr. Rex Curry and the old Pledge salute.