Baltimore, home of the Star-Spangled Banner, is the focal point today for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Pledge of Allegiance. The locally based National Flag Day Foundation, which has worked tirelessly to generate enthusiasm for its "Pause for the Pledge," is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
This evening's 7 p.m. Fort McHenry event puts the emphasis firmly on the pledge that millions of school children and adults have recited hundreds of times over the decades. It is only 31 words long. Yet its powerful espousal of patriotism and devotion to country can be a moving experience.
Controversy has surrounded the origins of the pledge. A circulation manager for The Youth's Companion magazine, James B. Upham, wanted to promote a revival of "old-fashioned" patriotism, especially after one newspaper labeled flag-raising ceremonies as merely "the worship of a textile fabric." What was recited in many U.S. schools was simply, "I give my hand and heart to my country, one nation, one language, one flag."