why do we salute the american flag

last week about the fact that all California state employees have to sign a loyalty oath, a reader took issue with the picture I posted of school children saluting the American flag with what looks like a Nazi salute. You do have a problem, the reader wrote. , which is of Hawaiian schoolchildren pledging allegiance in 1941, was real. I should have explained in my article that as another reader pointed out when the Pledge of Allegiance was first introduced in 1892, it was accompanied by what was called. The gesture was named after Francis Bellamy, who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance as part of a Columbus Day promotion for a magazine that was selling flags. When Bellamy, a Baptist minister who was part of a movement to put flags in every school, put together a program for the Columbus Day celebration, he called on students to give the flag a military salute, right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. "
The resemblance to the Nazi salute is therefore historically a coincidence, except insofar as both were inspired by the idea perhaps apocryphal that the ancient Romans used the same gesture.


Nevertheless, during World War II the similarity between the Bellamy Salute and the Nazi Salute made Americans uncomfortable, and in 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt rewrote the Flag Code and replaced the Bellamy Salute with the hand-over-the-heart gesture that we used today. It was not fair of me to seem to suggest by my use of the picture that there's any equivalence between the Pledge of Allegiance and the Sieg Heils given at Nazi rallies. Nevertheless, while there's no historical connection between the Bellamy and the Nazi salutes, the resemblance between the two is not entirely coincidental. Public declarations of loyalty to the Fatherland are a crucial feature of fascist regimes, which demand that citizens surrender their individuality to the common ideal of the whole people.


That s precisely the problem I have with the Pledge of Allegiance and with loyalty oaths in general. Several of my readers suggested that signing a loyalty oath as a condition of taking a state job was really the least I could do. I certainly have every intention of serving the government and my community. But democracies like ours are founded on the principle that the government owes allegiance to the people, not the other way around. We re not asked as citizens of a democracy to serve our government unconditionally. Nor do we ostracize people simply because they re critical of or have reservations about the state. We only require that they obey our laws and register their whatever dissent they wish to peacefully. RESPECT is a verb. an action. It is important to always show proper respect for the United States Flag. PROTOCOL defines HOW we demonstrate our respect for the flag.


Much of this is spelled out for us in the FLAG CODE. Among these rules and guidelines: The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way. The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling. The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature. The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, or carrying, or delivering anything.


The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown. No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a LIVING THING. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart. The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

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