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How the words “UNDER GOD” came to be added to the

Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

 

“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.”

 

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States

originated on Columbus Day, 1893. It contained no

reference to Almighty God, until in New York City on April

22, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus

adopted a resolution to amend the Pledge of Allegiance as

recited at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800

Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by the

addition of the words “under God” after the words “one

nation”. The adoption of this resolve by the Supreme Board

of Directors had the effect of an immediate initiation of this

practice throughout the aforesaid Fourth Degree Assembly

meetings. At their annual State Meetings, held in April and

May of 1952, the State Councils of Florida, South Dakota,

New York and Michigan adopted resolutions recommending

that the Pledge of Allegiance be so amended and that

Congress be petitioned to have such amendment made

effective.

 

On August 21, 1952, the Supreme Council of the Knights of

Columbus, at its annual meeting, adopted a resolution

urging that the change be made general and copies of this

resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as

Presiding Officer of the Senate) and the Speaker of the

House of Representatives. The National Fraternal Congress

meeting in Boston on September 24, 1952, adopted a

similar resolution upon the recommendation of its President,

Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart. Several State Fraternal

Congresses acted likewise almost immediately thereafter.

At its annual meeting the following year, on August 20,

1953, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus

repeated its resolution to make this amendment to the

Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag general and to send copies

of this resolve to the President, Vice President, Speaker of

the House, and to each member of both Houses of Congress.

 

From this latter action, many favorable replies were

received, and a total of seventeen resolutions were

introduced in the House of Representatives to so amend the

Pledge of Allegiance as set forth in the Public Law relating to

the use of the flag. The resolution introduced by

Congressman Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan was adopted by

both Houses of Congress, and it was signed by President

Eisenhower on Flag Day, June 14, 1954, thereby making

official the amendment conceived, sponsored, and put into

practice by the Knights of Columbus more than three years

before. In a message to Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart at the

meeting of the Supreme Council in Louisville, August 17,

1954, President Eisenhower, in recognition of the initiative of

the Knights of Columbus in originating and sponsoring the

amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance, said: “We are

particularly thankful to you for your part in the movement to

have the words ‘under God’ added to our Pledge of

Allegiance. These words will remind Americans that despite

our great physical strength we must remain humble. They

will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the

spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to

man, and upon which our way of life is founded. For the

contribution which your organization has made to this cause,

we must be genuinely grateful.”

 

In August, 1954, the Illinois American Legion Convention

adopted a resolution whereby recognition was given to the

Knights of Columbus as having initiated, sponsored and

brought about the amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance;

and on October 6, 1954, the National Executive Committee

of the American Legion gave its approval to that resolution.