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School Children Pledging Their Allegiance to the Flag in Southington, Connecticut, photograph by Fenno Jacobs for the Farm Security Administration, May 1942

Minister Francis Bellamy published an early form of the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892. In Bellamy’s version, the flag was saluted with the right arm extended and the palm face down. Congress passed legislation in 1942 instructing Americans to place their right hand over the heart instead, as Bellamy’s gesture of respect too closely resembled the Nazi salute.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

School Children Pledging Their Allegiance to the Flag in Southington, Connecticut

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance dates back to the 1880s, when it was written to teach immigrant children about national loyalty. It has been revised on several occasions; during World War II Congress altered the form of the pledge’s accompanying salute. Uncomfortably resembling the Nazi salute, Congress changed it to placing the right hand over the heart. At the conclusion of the war in 1945, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.