Pledging Allegiance

The other day, my 9 year old son came into my office and asked me if I knew the “Pledge of Allegiance”.

Of course, he was really prompting me to ask him so he could recite it to me–and how proud I was that he did! These are the times I love the most about being a father. What a great opportunity to talk with my son about what the “Pledge of Allegiance” means.

This got me thinking about how many of us just recite the Pledge without really thinking about it’s meaning, and more importantly what it means to pledge our allegiance.

So, let’s first review the history of the pledge.

The original pledge was published on 8 September 1892 in a publication called “Youth’s Companion” which was largely a Christian periodical. The author was Francis Bellamy. In it’s first iteration, the language was generic because the pledge was intended for citizens of any nation to use. But by 1942, Congress had formally adopted the pledge (June 22, 1942, ch. 435, ยง7, 56 Stat. 380) and by 1954, the pledge had been changed by Congress to it’s current form to reflect its use in the United States and to incorporate our Christian heritage in order to make a bold and public stance against the growing threat of Communism.

NOTE: This is one of the many instances where our Christian heritage is recognized by our own government. This is not to be confused with endorsement of one denomination of the Christian faith. Be sure to subscribe to the blog to read more about this in future posts.

ALLEGIANCE, noun – the duty of fidelity to a king, government or state

–American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

So, as it stands, and in accordance with 4 USC, Section 4 ,the Pledge reads as follows (hopefully this is not new to anyone) :

โ€œI 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.โ€

Let’s break it down:


FIDELITY, noun – Faithfulness; careful and exact observance of duty, or performance of obligations.

–American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

“I pledge allegiance…”– I promise careful and exact observance of my duty and performance of my obligations as a citizen…

“…to the Flag of the Unites States of America…” – to the symbol of the United States of America…

“…, and to the Republic for which it stands…” – and more specifically, to the Republic for which that flag is a symbol. This Republic is not an individual or faction, but is represented by the Constitution of the United States.


INDIVISIBLE, adjective – That cannot be divided, separated or broken; not separable into parts.

–American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

“…, one Nation under God…” – This Republic is one nation under God’s authority. NOTE: once again, we are recognizing our dependence on our God’s providence and mercy, not promoting any denomination of Christianity.


“…indivisible…” – While we are made up of the several states, we are formed into one union under our Constitution’s protection.

“…with liberty and justice for all.” – Under our Constitution, every citizen is guaranteed the liberties established therein and justice shall be applied equally to each of us.

This is what we are pledging allegiance to each time we recite these words. So next time someone begins the Pledge, even if you are across the room, building, field, or whatever, stand at attention and render the salute with a genuine understanding of what you are saying.

We live in the greatest country on the earth and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll recognize that if it is supported properly, we get much more out of our Constitution than we individually pledge with these words.