Heart Covered
Off the Wall, July 12
, 2012

I don’t know when you recited the Pledge of Allegiance last, but if you are like me, it seems to be said less and less any more. Sometimes I hear it at a ball game, an event at the American Legion, or a city gathering where the flag is in full view.

Just for the heck of it, whisper it to yourself. It’s not hard. Even for many of us who have not said it for sometime, it is one of those passages, if that is what it is to be called, that just rolls off one’s tongue.

To help a little bit, these are the 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.

Do any of those words jump out and hit you. Four of them do for me – one nation under God. I don’t care who says what, that’s important to me, and I bet any kind of money, I am not alone.

Matty Martin, Doulouth, NE, said it best, when she wrote, “I love my country and the people in it. I love that we are one nation under God. It is because of God that I am able to love at all…” How beautiful, and yet, “how right on…” as the saying goes.

She was the only person who responded to a limited, quick survey I did recently when I asked the question, “What does it mean when one covers his heart with one’s fist (hand) upon saying the Pledge of Allegiance? I say short, because I thought I was the unknowledgeable one and everyone else was in the know. Boy did I get an awakening. One fellow even came up to me in Bible study and asked, “Say, why do people put their hands over their hearts? I don’t know the answer or I would have written back to you.” Apparently, I was not alone. It must have been one of those oversights persons never dug into, but just accepted.

I’ll touch upon the reason later. Before getting to that, however, I want to talk a little bit about our Pledge of Allegiance. The first part – “I pledge allegiance” means I promise to be true. If one verbally states those words, then he should know by both heart and mind, what he says is true to the word.

Next, “to the flag” refers to the symbol of our country. “…of the United States of America…,” how each state has come together to make our country great. “and to the Republic” (a republic is country where the people choose others to make laws for them – the government is “of, by and for” the people), “for which it stands, - (the flag means the country), “under God (the people believe in a supreme being), “indivisible,” (the country cannot split into parts), “with liberty and justice” (with freedom and fairness), “for all” (for each person in the country…you and me!). The pledge says you are promising to be true to the USA! (This information was taken from the website: www.wvsd.uscourts.gov).

And now to answer the question of the day, placing one’s hand over the heart, from my survey, few responded, one was correct, corresponding to the information the following website provided – www.usa-flag-site.org:

“The etiquette is spelled out in Title 36, Subtitle 1, Paragraph 31 of the U.S. Code – During a rendition of the national anthem – (1) when the flag is displayed – (A) all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;

(B) men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and

(C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and

(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.”

The website also noted, “Technically, a military person or veteran wearing civilian clothes can give the military salute when the flag passes, but not when the national anthem is played.”

This information definitely clarified any questions I may have had. I hope it did the same for you as well.

- Paul J. Volkmann
Contact me by email

To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.