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Demonstrate the ability to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, to explain its general meaning, and to sing national songs such as America the Beautiful, My Country, 'tis of Thee, God Bless America, and The Star Spangled Banner and explain the general meaning of the lyrics.

Songs and Topics on the Page
Pledge of Allegiance
Star Spangled Banner
My Country, 'Tis of Thee
America the Beautiful
God Bless America
  • This Land Is Your Land
    • Lift Every Voice and Sing

The Pledge of Allegiance
external image Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
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.
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen to the pledge.

What does the pledge mean?

The Pledge of Allegiance is viewed as a promise to respect the United States. Citizens do this by respecting the flag, a symbol of the United States. By promising to respect the "Republic, for which it stands", they are promising to be kind, giving, and fair. The United States is considered "indivisible" because everyone is joined together and cannot be separated. Everyone also is free and treated fairly.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.47.12 PM.pngThe phrase "under God" is the source of debate and legal decisions.

Students pledging to the flag, 1899
Students pledging to the flag, 1899

The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and socialist in 1892. It did not contain the phrase "under God." He hoped to revive patriotism by having schoolchildren recite a daily pledge to flag and country.
  • Adopted by Congress in 1942
  • The phrase "under God" was added in 1954 at the height of the anti-communist Red Scare.
  • In Engle v. Vitale (1962) the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a voluntary prayer recitation at the start of the school day.

Voluntary Participation

The Star Spangled Banner

World War II Poster, 1940
World War II Poster, 1940

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen

primary_sources.PNGExploring and Learning the National Anthem with Primary Sources, Library of Congress

What does this mean?
This song was written during a fight. The writer saw the flag waving above the fight, even through all the bombing. This symbolizes that no matter what happens, the flag and America will always survive to protect freedom and the people who protect America.

9 Things You May Not Know about the Star Spangled Banner
  • Written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 who was NOT a prisoner on a British ship at the time of the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor
    • Executive Order by President Wilson in 1916 declared it the national anthem
      • Congress passed a law making the song the national anthem in 1931
        • Performed at a sports event for the first during the 7th inning of the 1918 World Series between Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs
Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 10.34.42 AM.png
Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 1.14.11 PM.pngStar-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America's National Anthem. Marc Ferris. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014

primary_sources.PNGTackling Paid Patriotism: A Joint Oversight Report by U.S. Sens John McCain & Jeff Flake, 2015
  • The Pentagon Paid Lucrative Sports Franchises Millions to Honor Troops, The Washington Post (November 4, 2015)
    • Since 2012, the Pentagon paid millions on marketing and advertising contracts with most of the professional sports leagues, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer.

Miami Dolphins Players Kneeling during National Anthem, September 11, 2016
Miami Dolphins Players Kneeling during National Anthem, September 11, 2016

Standing for the National Anthem

NFL Players Didn't Stand For The National Anthem till 2009

Arian Foster Clearly Explains NFL Players Motivation for Protesting the National Anthem, SB Nation, September 12, 2016

Worcester High School Football Players Will Not Be Disciplined for Knelling During Anthem, Boston Globe, September 13, 2016

Miami Dolphins Team Statement about Player Participation in National Anthem

They Didn't # Take the Knee: The Black Power Protest Salute That Shook the World in 1968. The Washington Post (September 24, 2017)

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 11.31.41 AM.pngThe First Amendment and Restricting Professional Athlete Protests

My Country, 'tis of Thee

My country,' tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside let freedom ring!

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 4.03.33 PM.pngMy Country, Tis of Thee, a primary source by Samuel F. Smith

Multimedia.pngClick here to listen
      • For additional lyrics, click here.

What does this mean?
The singer is proud of his country, the United States. To show his pride, he is going to sing about America. His ancestors died in the war to create the US. The Pilgrims were one of the first groups of people to travel from Europe to America to create a new society, a land that they were proud of. Everyone in America is free.

America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen to the song. For additional lyrics, click here.

Katharine Lee Bates, author of "America the Beautiful"
Katharine Lee Bates, author of "America the Beautiful"

Female_Rose.pngAmerica the Beautiful was written by Katharine Lee Bates who was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts in 1859.

primary_sources.PNGClick here for an essay Katharine Lee Bates wrote in 1925 describing her inspiration for the song.

What does this mean?
This song is showing thanks for all parts of America. The singer loves the mountains, the plains, the skies, and everything that grows in America. Everyone who lives in America is united and treats each other like family, no matter where they live.

God Bless America
external image Eagle_and_American_Flag_by_Bubbels.jpg
God bless America,
Land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above;

From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen
What does this mean?
This song asks that the United States be protected against any evil or bad thing. The song asks that every part of America be protected. America is a home for everyone in it.

external image Woody_Guthrie_NYWTS.jpg

This Land Is Your Land

Woody Guthrie (1946) Sings This Land is Your Land on YouTube.

Arlo Guthrie Sings This Land is Your Land on YouTube.

Bruce Springsteen (1985) Sings This Land is Your Land on YouTube.

Pete Seeger (2009) Sings This Land is Your Land on YouTube.

James Weldon Johnson, 1902
James Weldon Johnson, 1902

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson, Black Culture Connection, PBS

Multimedia.pngLink to Ray Charles performing Lift Every Voice and Sing on the Dick Caveat Show (September 18, 1972)

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 11.16.22 AM.pngCivil Rights Songs Blog