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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
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
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
"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
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.