North Central Pennsylvania is, without a doubt, one of the most patriotic regions of the country. It is also proud to count among its residents many active and retired men and women that have served in our great nation’s military, which is why the management and employees of Backyard Broadcasting in Williamsport were looking for a program with a patriotic emphasis with which to get involved. According to Gerald Getz, Director of Sales, the group was initially thinking of having school children sing the National Anthem but instead advocated for the Pledge of Allegiance. “In the 1990s, the Froggy Network of radio stations was airing the Pledge of Allegiance in the Pittsburgh area. It was very popular,” said Getz. The Backyard Broadcasting group of radio stations thought it was a great idea and decided to proceed. It was at this point that on-air personality for station 105.1 WILQ, Ted Minier, got involved. Minier reached out to friends that worked for local school districts and was directed to several area principles to explore how to implement this idea.
On May 7, 2018, Christine Miller’s Kindergarten class from Central Elementary School in South Williamsport was the first class to say the Pledge of Allegiance for WILQ. Minier recorded the students saying the Pledge twice on his cell phone then everyone voted on which version they liked best. The winning Pledge was later aired on the radio and uploaded to WILQ.com. This partnership with local schools has continued and is aired at 7 a.m. Permission to record the children is requested through the school systems and is completely voluntary.
This program became so popular, in fact, that Beiter’s Home Center agreed to be the program sponsor in the second week of airing and has been involved ever since. Backyard Broadcasting has also given an American flag to all of the students who have said the Pledge of Allegiance through this program. “The radio group has given out between 5,000 and 6,000 flags since it began in 2018,” Minier said.
What many people might not know is that the Pledge of Allegiance, as we currently know it, was not how it was originally written. It has actually changed several times since its inception.
The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance was written by Captain George Thatcher Balch, a Union Army Officer of the Civil War, and read: “We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag!”
The current, and best-known version, however, is credited to Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, and was written in August of 1892. It was later published on September 8 of the same year in The Youth’s Companion, a very popular publication of that period. Bellamy was also involved with a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association. As its chairman, he prepared the program for the public schools’ 400-year celebration of Columbus Day in 1892. In addition, he had it printed on a leaflet and sent to all of the schools in the country. The program centered around a flag-raising ceremony and a flag salute.
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.”
In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added changing it to: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Originally, the Pledge was said with the right hand extended in the so-called “Bellamy Salute.” When Hitler came to power in Europe, however, some Americans were concerned that this position resembled the Nazi salute. In response, 1942 Congress established the current practice of placing the right hand over the heart during the recital of the Pledge.
The Pledge of Allegiance did not receive official recognition by Congress until June 22, 1942, when it 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.”
The Flag Code states that any future changes to the Pledge of Allegiance would have to have the consent of the President of the United States.
In 1954, in response to the Communism, President Eisenhower requested that Congress add the words “under God,” creating the Pledge we currently recite.
Today it reads: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”