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Max Pozel

Natalie Farr

The Power of Thinking

11 September 2008

Why the Pledge of Allegiance Should Be Revised Critical Analysis

“The United States of America” and “under God” are two phrases

which have been added to the original Pledge of Allegiance, published

116 years ago. “The United States of America” was added in 1923 and

was placed after the words “my Flag (Wilde, 47).” “My Flag” was

deemed too confusing for the massive wave of immigrants after World

War I and The Pledge of Allegiance needed to become a symbol of

national unity with the influx of new citizens. The independence offered

in the phrase “my Flag” became the omnipresent “the Flag of the

United States of America (47).”

Gwen Wilde writes that the Pledge of Allegiance uses “God as a

divisive weapon (50).” The author’s argument can be overturned by

the worship practices of 3% of the American population. In Judaism,

the word for God goes unspoken in prayer. The word can only be

written. Wilde writes, “Millions of loyal Americans say [the Pledge of

Allegiance] (50).” If the Jew chooses to say “God” and if he or she

believes the Jewish God is different than the American God, then the

Jew is stuck as either a disloyal follower of Judaism or a “disloyal”

American. Wilde chooses to speak of 3% of Americans who


acknowledge the power of the word “God” in loyal silence in disloyal

allegiance to their country or vice versa. Wilde’s strategy is to separate

the Flag from Religion because as she devises a way to subtract God

from the Pledge she must also subtract religion and worship. She

mentions honoring the Flag and writes of loyalty to country, but there

is no mention of an honorable God. This is ineffective because all

Americans live “under” the Flag and “under God. (47)”

The author begins with “All Americans are familiar with the

Pledge of Allegiance, even if they cannot always recite it perfectly.”

She goes on to say that “the original Pledge did not include the words

‘under God’ (47).” The Pledge of 1892 was two lines long and consisted

of 23 words. The effect of two major wars has caused the Pledge to

undergo two changes, which have added eight words to the original

poem.

The first edit came after World War I with the unifying of the line

“my Flag” and “the Republic” to “the United States of America.” “To

the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which

it stands (p. 47).”

During the buildup of World War II, the Pledge became official

and was subsequently changed in 1954 by a former general and then

President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He approved the addition of the words

“under God” immediately before the word “indivisible.”


Gwen states her point in paragraph four, “In my view, the

addition of the words “under God” is inappropriate, and they are

needlessly divisive – an odd addition indeed to a Nation that is said to

be “indivisible (47).”

In my view, the addition of “of the United States of America” is

more divisive than “under God,” which is also the more recent addition

to the Pledge. Wilde gives statistics showing that between 73%-83% of

Americans believe in “God” (48). The phrase is naturally divisive.

However, until “of the United States of America” was added in 1923,

the poem had no attachment to “the Nation.” There were only 12 years

between the two changes in the Pledge in which the pledge was

officially sanctioned by the United States Flag Code and did not include

the word God (48).

Wilde is unconvincing in her argument because she does not use

the history of the Pledge to justify her position and its relation to

modern religious and social tones in the United States.

She does not base her own regard for the subject with any

reverence toward any individuals formerly involved with the Pledge nor

studies the emotional impact of the people who were most affected by

the decision to add words to the Pledge. Wilde chooses to not read the

past and follows her own logic of religiosity statistics and fails to

produce any emotional effect on the reader.


There is nothing to back her up besides her misery in knowing

that American citizens must recite the Pledge in fear, yet she makes no

effort to conquer, or even identify the root of her fears, which is the

American government.

She does not recognize time as a significant historical point of

reference for Eisenhower’s position and its relation to the time in which

he lived. She fails to convince the reader of the significance of

Eisenhower’s decision to add the words “under God” to the Pledge

when she does not draw similarities or differences between her own

emotion from the subject and he who created the phrase.

This period from 1942-1954 was arguably the bloodiest since the

Pledge was created. Eisenhower mentioned the pledge as a “spiritual

weapon which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in

peace and war (48).” “Of the United States of America” condensed “my

Flag” to “the Flag of the United States” and separated each citizen’s

independent democratic view of America. And the addition of “under

God” separated those who believe in God and those who do not. The

majority of Americans, as stated by Wilde, believe in God. This

describes the historical actions of a former WWII general who

oppositely describes the phrase “under God” during America’s

bloodiest time as a “spiritual weapon” and “the country’s most

powerful resource (48).” In my view, the original phrase “my Flag”

describes what it means to be “one Nation under God.” The Flag is


under God, and therefore America worships the Flag – and to whom do

you direct a gesture toward history? It is every American’s right to

acknowledge the unreal or imagined.

It is hard to decipher when a people are in the throes of war and

when total peace has been achieved and appreciated by their own

government. The Pledge is a spiritual weapon in one country’s fight

between War and Peace. Eisenhower placed his faith in the American

government but announced that without an all-knowing, all-powerful

presence larger than he and his country, believed to rule America itself

by the majority of his citizens, there could be no peace. Wilde writes on

page 48, “If one doesn’t express this belief [in divine power] one is –

according to the Pledge – somehow not fully American, maybe even

un-American (49).” I disagree with this statement because any

recitation of the Pledge is American. The Pledge of Allegiance is to the

American Flag and even a person in Israel speaking the Pledge is

speaking the American Pledge of Allegiance. I understand Wilde when

she says not everyone expresses belief in divine power, but over 50

years ago Eisenhower chose to promote peace in America through the

addition of thewords “one Nation under God” in the Pledge of

Allegiance.

On page 49, Gwen Wilde says the phrase “under God” “does not

describe a reality” in response to Chief Justice Rehnquist’s description

of the phrase “as it describes something, real or imagined.” I argue


that the history of the words give the phrase “under God” meaning.

“History,” like “God,” can be described as real or imagined and I

believe in the history of God.

Works Cited

Wilde, Gwen. "Why the Pledge of Allegiance Should Be Revised."


Creative Thinking, Reading, and Writing. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo
Bedau. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008.