1. One of the oldest verses memorized by American schoolchildren was written in 1892 and published in "The Youth's Companion" so students could recite it on Columbus Day. The oath was intended to be a one-time recitation, but its popularity among teachers and children was such that it became a daily classroom observance. Originally, the verse said "my flag," not "the Flag." The phrase "under God" was added in 1954.
2. Illustrations of this finger-pointing, white-haired fellow first appeared in New England newspapers in 1810. Originally, the figure was beardless and wore black. The name for this figure in the stars-and-stripes top hat was first used during the War of 1812. Samuel Wilson was a meat-packer who supplied the United States Army. When he crated his products for shipping, he stamped the initials of his avuncular nickname on the outside: U.S., or ....
3. This marching song was the unofficial anthem of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Originally, though, it was a British ballad meant to make fun of the Colonists for their efforts to appear "dandy" with feathers in their caps. But after the Americans had won a few battles, they adopted the song as their own and defiantly poked fun at their adversaries instead.
SOURCES: 'Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,' by Charles Panati; World Book Encyclopedia; Encyclopedia Americana.
(1) The Pledge of Allegiance, written in 1892; (2) "Uncle Sam" Wilson; (3) "Yankee Doodle," written in the 1750s.
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