Meaning of "Under God"

Stephen Wasby wasb at
Mon Mar 29 16:45:04 PST 2004

The "opt out" was never explained in any grade through which I went in
elementary, junior, or high school. I grew up not only with the mandatory
pledge but also mandatory Bible-reading and the Lord's Prayer (but that's
another story).
    I am also old enough to remember doing the Pledge with what can only be
called the "Heil Hitler" salute -- before a number of people (including, as
I remember having read recently, the American Legion), recognized the
similarity of the
arm swung stiff in front of one's body to Hitlerian salutes, and it was
retracted, and we simply put our hands over our
hearts).  Did we have a chance to opt out of that fascism? You betcha we
weren't told.
     Steve Wasby

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Judith Baer" <JBAER at>
Sent: Monday, March 29, 2004 4:05 PM
Subject: FW: RE: Meaning of "Under God"

> Mae Kuykendall wrote:
> I actually wonder which year was
> >the first I recited Under God--I don't recall being told the phrase was
> >being added but a repressed memory is trying to emerge of reciting it
> >without Under God.
> I remember the transition vividly. The day after Flag Day, our 3rd grade
> you must know) teacher told us, "Yesterday, President Eisenhower signed a
> law" adding the words to the Pledge. Left unremarked was the question of
> president's power to do this or, indeed, the fact that saying the pledge
> all was optional. I didn't find that out until I took con law in college.
> Every year I ask my students if they knew, and the number who did has
> over the years. I'd be curious to know other listers' experiences.
> Judy Baer
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