I don’t remember the first time I learned the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and to this nation. I assume it was September 1953 during my first year of Government required education in Mrs. Smith’s first grade class at Ellicott Elementary school in Prichard, Alabama. Our country was comprised of forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, and several territories.

I stood every morning with the twenty-nine other members of my class, or in larger groups, if we were in an all school assembly, and recited, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The Pledge had evolved with a few minor revisions from the original version that was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, to commemorate the passage of 400 years since Columbus landed in America. It read, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

On June 14, 1954, Flag Day, President Dwight David Eisenhower, signed the act into law that added the words, “Under God” to the Pledge.

For the next five years, I pledged my allegiance to the forty-eight-star and thirteen stripes flag with the following words, “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.

In the year of our Lord, nineteen-hundred and fifty-nine, Alaska and Hawaii were added as the 49th and 50th states of our union. The timing of their inclusion meant a forty-nine-star flag became the symbol for one year, beginning on July 4th, 1959, to recognize the acceptance of Alaska.

From September 1959 until the end of the school year in 1960 my classmates and I stood, placed our right hand over our heart, and pledged allegiance and devotion to the then forty-nine states, that were depicted on the flag in a seven-row by seven-column of stars and the previous thirteen stripes.

A new flag was unveiled on July 4th, 1960 to indicate Hawaii was now a state, and it became the official banner of the United States of America. When we returned to school in September 1960, we pledged our loyalty to the current fifty-star flag. It was exciting studying history as it unfolded before us. I was part of one of only five classes of students who experienced both the editing of the pledge and the addition of the last two states.

The United States of America, the country of my birth, is a federal republic consisting of fifty states, the District of Columbia, five major territories, and various minor islands.

In addition to the pledge of allegiance, we sang the National Anthem, America the Beautiful, and we prayed for God’s grace, guidance, and blessings to cover this nation.

In the mid-seventies, I pulled my family out and we left a Church and people I loved when the pastor, who I dearly loved, proclaimed, more than once, from the pulpit, “I can no longer ask God to bless America.” He was speaking of the pervasive sin that was rampant in this country. Even with all that was going on, I could not abandon my devotion to this country and to all the men who fought, and especially those who died to keep this nation free. I took what I learned there, and until now, never told anyone, not even the pastor, why I pulled my family away from his influence.

I love our Lord, I love our country, and I am thankful to God for allowing me to be a citizen here until He calls me to join Him in my eternal home. I will continue to regularly pledge my allegiance to these United States for as long as I live. I do it for me, not politics. I don’t care what your politics are.

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