Sunday, June 14, 2015

Flag Day and Pledge of Allegiance

From Kansas to You, History Written 1917
As a born Kansan (6 generations ), might I brag that the original Pledge of Allegiance came from Cherryvale, Montgomery County, Kansas, close to Coffeyville.
Transcription: The Denison Review, Denison Iowa,
Origin of This Sublime Salute to   the Stars and Stripes.


The Tribute Our School Children Pay to Old Glory Was Written by a Kansas Boy Who Was Inspired by the Patriotism of a Kansas Woman.

Half a hundred boys and girls, eyes  glistening and voices thrilling, chant  the flag pledge in unison, and at the  close half a hundred right arms are thrust forward and upward, the better  to wave a half a hundred little American flags. 
That Is the scene presented to the visitor in any public schoolroom in America on Washington's birthday or flag day or any other occasion of a patriotic program. 
America owes its flag pledge to Kansas.' It was written by a Kansas boy and inspired by a Kansas woman.  Here is the story: 
A little more than twenty years ago Mrs. Lillian A. Hendricks of Cherryvale, Kan., was an untiring worker in the Women's Relief corps, an auxiliary of the G. A. R., and held the office of patriotic instructor in the Cherryvale organization. The mother of two boys, she wanted them to grow up with the spirit of her ancestry, which led back to John Cary of Revolutionary war fame, and she entered- upon her duties as patriotic instructor with enthusiasm.  She followed the custom of her official predecessors in visiting the schools and talking to the pupils about the glories of the country and its traditions. But she went farther. She introduced the principal of the high school to set aside a recitation hour, during which the sixteen members of the class of 1896 wrote their ideas of their debt to their country and their duty to its government. 
One member of the class was Frank E. Bellamy. His tribute impressed Mrs.  Hendricks so much, when it was gathered up with the others and sent to her for inspection, that she preserved it. 
With 1898 came the Spanish-American war, and one of the first to volunteer his services to the country was Frank Bellamy, then twenty-one years old. He joined the Twentieth Kansas Infantry as a member of the regimental band and went to the Philippines, where he remained until the Kansas fighting force returned to the United States and was mustered out. 
But in the meantime, in 1899, with the fervor of patriotism which the war with Spain aroused, came the decision of a conference of representatives of the patriotic organizations of the country that a pledge of allegiance was necessary to inculcate a love of country in the generations to come. Throughout the states the submission of suitable sentiments was invited, and the W. R. C., through its state departments and through local corps like the one at Cherryvale, took it up. Mrs. Hendricks, whose love of the Stars and Stripes was something very much like worship, thought at once of the pledge of allegiance written by the high school boy who now was with Uncle Sam's fighting men across the Pacific, and she submitted it to the national committee which was to make the selection. Out of thousands upon thousands of manuscripts which reached the committee  and were read and passed on, the pledge of Frank Bellamy was chosen as the one expressing in fewest words and  strongest phrases the loyalty of an American to his flag and to the land of his 'birth or adoption. So it came to pass that the Kansas boy author of the "flag pledge" is numbered with Francis  Scott Key, author of "The Star Spangled  Banner, Joseph Rodman Drake, author of "The American Flag, Dr. S. S. Smith, author of "America," and others from whence pens have come undying expressions of loyalty to our country. 
Frank Bellamy returned from the Philippines shattered in health by his stay in the tropics. It is an interesting fact that he knew nothing of the adoption .of his pledge of allegiance by the patriotic societies of America until Mrs. Hendricks told him when he arrived in his home town.
"We are proud of you, Frank," she said "and the national W. R. C. has passed a resolution thanking you for writing it."  The boy flushed. "It didn't express half "what I tried to write," he said. 
The physicians who examined him on  his arrival home found that the white plague already had him In Its grip and ordered him to the mountains. He went to Colorado, and, since he could no longer follow music as a vocation, he took up art, for which he also had a talent, and, his own mother having died, he looked to Mrs. Hendricks for advice and corresponded with her throughout his residence in the west 
Mr. Bellamy never recovered his health, but his last days were made easy because of the fact that through Mrs. Hendricks' efforts he obtained a liberal pension as a Spanish-American war veteran. He died in Denver March 31, 1915. His body was taken to Cherryvale and rests in Fairview cemetery there, not far from the shaft which marks the grave of Mrs. Hendricks.—

Kansas City Star.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

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