Category Archives: Cold War

United States Pledge Allegiance

United States Pledge Allegiance


At at time when whether the choice of kneeling or standing has come under Presidential scrutiny, it is a good idea to look back at our Pledge of Allegiance’s history.


It might seem that we’ve always had one, but like most social icons,  the United States had no allegiance to the flag for more than a century and we’ve only had a government sanctioned one for less than a century.


Here’s some of that timeline:


United States Pledge Allegiance

19th century genesis

October 12, 1892: during Columbus Day observances organized to coincide with the opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, the pledge of allegiance was recited for the first time.


Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist, had initiated the movement for such a statement and having flags in all classrooms. His pledge was: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

United States Pledge Allegiance


An adjustment to avoid apparent confusion

In 1923: the National Flag Conference called for the words “my Flag” to be changed to “the Flag of the United States,” so that new immigrants would not confuse loyalties between their birth countries and the United States. The words “of America” were added a year later.


United States Pledge Allegiance

Patriotism on display

May 3, 1937: as the rest of the world headed toward World War II, a patriot fervor swept the U.S., as it had before, during and after World War I.


Walter Gobitas

United States Pledge Allegiance

One expression of that movement involved state laws requiring public school students to salute the flag each morning. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, regarded saluting the flag as an expression of a commitment to a secular authority and unfaithfulness to God.


As a result, some families had their children refuse to participate in the compulsory salute. On this day, Walter Gobitas (the family name was misspelled in the court case) sued the Minersville, Pennsylvania, School Board, in a case that ended up in the Supreme Court: Minersville School District v. Gobitis

United States Pledge Allegiance

June 3, 1940: Minersville School District v. Gobitis, was a decision by the US Supreme Court involving the religious rights of public school students under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.


The Court ruled that public schools could compel students—in this case, Jehovah’s Witnesses—to salute the American Flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance despite the students’ religious objections to these practices.


United States Pledge Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance official

United States Pledge Allegiance


June 22, 1942:  The United States Congress officially recognized the Pledge for the first time, in the following form: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


During the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted salutes which were similar in form, resulting in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States.


December 22, 1942: Congress amended the Flag code to replace the Bellamy salute with the the hand-over-heart salute. The Bellamy salute  had been the salute described by Francis Bellamy to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored.


United States Pledge Allegiance

FREE SPEECH?

June 14, 1943: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette,  the US Supreme Court held that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. It was a significant court victory won by Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose religion forbade them from saluting or pledging to symbols, including symbols of political institutions. However, the Court did not address the effect the compelled salutation and recital ruling had upon their particular religious beliefs, but instead ruled that the state did not have the power to compel speech in that manner for anyone.


Barnette overruled the June 3, 1940 decision (Minersville School District v. Gobitis) which also involved the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

United States Pledge Allegiance
“under God”

February 12, 1948:  Louis A. Bowman, an attorney from Illinois, was the first to initiate the addition of “under God” to the Pledge. He was Chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. At a meeting on February 12, 1948, Lincoln’s Birthday, he led the Society in swearing the Pledge with two words added, “under God.”


He stated that the words came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Though not all manuscript versions of the Gettysburg Address contain the words “under God”, all the reporters’ transcripts of the speech as delivered do, as perhaps Lincoln may have deviated from his prepared text and inserted the phrase when he said “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.”


United States Pledge Allegiance
Knights of Columbus

April 30, 1951: the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, had begun to include the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. On this date in New York City the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors adopted a resolution to amend the text of their Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words “under God” after the words “one nation.”


Over the next two years, the idea spread throughout Knights of Columbus organizations nationwide.


August 21, 1952: the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting adopted a resolution urging that the change be made universal and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

President Eisenhower baptized

February 1, 1953: President Eisenhower was baptized, confirmed, and became a communicant in the Presbyterian church in a single ceremony.

United States Pledge Allegiance
George MacPherson Docherty

United States Pledge Allegiance

It had become a tradition that some American presidents  honored Lincoln’s birthday by attending services at the church Lincoln attended in Washington, DC, [the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church] and sitting in Lincoln’s pew on the Sunday nearest February 12.


On February 7, 1954, with President Eisenhower sitting in Lincoln’s pew, the church’s pastor, George MacPherson Docherty, delivered a sermon based on the Gettysburg Address titled “A New Birth of Freedom.”


He argued that the nation’s might lay not in arms but its spirit and higher purpose. He noted that the Pledge’s sentiments could be those of any nation, that “there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.” He cited Lincoln’s words “under God” as defining words that set the United States apart from other nations.


President Eisenhower, baptized a Presbyterian the previous  February, responded enthusiastically to Docherty in a conversation following the service. (Christian Perspective article on Eisenhower)


United States Pledge Allegiance
“under God” gets Presidential support

February 8, 1954: Eisenhower acted on Rev Doucherty’s suggestion and Rep. Charles Oakman (R-Mich.), introduced a bill to that effect.


United States Pledge Allegiance


June 14, 1954: President Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Flag Day, stating, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. … In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”


Stay or leave

March 4, 1969: the New York City Corporation Council upheld the petition of Dorothy Lynn, a 17-year-old Queens, NY high school student to leave her classroom during the Pledge of Allegiance.


Lynn said that she did not believe in God or that everyone was granted liberty and justice. (NYT article)


Sit or stand?

United States Pledge Allegiance

October 31, 1969:  Mary Frain and Susan Keller, two 12-year-old 7th grade girls in Brooklyn went to court  to assert their right to remain seated in class while other students recited the Pledge of Allegiance.


Referring to the Vietnam War, one of the students  said she refused to recite the pledge because she doesn’t believe that “the actions of this country at this time warrant my respect.” 


The school had suspended the seventh graders four weeks earlier in what the school board’s attorney described as a simple matter of school discipline and not one of First Amendment law. Allowing the girls to remain seated, he claimed, would be “disruptive.”

New York Civil Liberties Union lawyers represented the girls. The NYCLU cited the Supreme Court case of West Virginia v. Barnette, decided of June 14, 1943, in which the Court upheld the right of Jehovah’s Witness’s children not to salute the American flag as required by their school.


On December 10, Judge Orrin G Judd, enjoined the city school system from telling student that they must leave the classrooms if they do not want to stand and recite the Pledge.


Judd said the students had a constitutinal right to remain seated until the school could prove that by sitting through the Pledge the students had “materially infringed” the rights of other students or had caused disruption. (NYT article)


United States Pledge Allegiance

New Jersey

August 16, 1977: a Federal District Court overturned a New Jersey state law requiring all public school students in New Jersey to at least stand at attention during the pledge of allegiance to the American flag.


Judge H. Curtis Meanor ruled that the standing mandated by the State Education Law illegally compelled “symbolic speech” and violated students’ First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and speech.


The New Jersey statute stipulated that the pledge be recited and a flag salute rendered by all children in public schools, except for the children of foreign diplomats or for youngsters with “conscientious scruples” against the acts.


But the law required that the exempt pupils “be required to show full respect to the flag while the pledge is being given merely by standing at attention.” Judge Meanor objected to the “mandatory language” of that section of the law.

United States Pledge Allegiance

Under or not under God?

June 27, 2002: a federal appeals court declared that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because the phrase ”one nation under God” violated the separation of church and state.


A three-member panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the pledge, as it exists in federal law, could not be recited in schools because it violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against a state endorsement of religion. In addition, the ruling turned on the phrase ”under God” which Congress added in 1954 to one of the most hallowed patriotic traditions in the nation.


From a constitutional standpoint, those two words, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote in the 2-to-1 decision, were just as objectionable as a statement that ”we are a nation ‘under Jesus,’ a nation ‘under Vishnu,’ a nation ‘under Zeus,’ or a nation ‘under no god,’ because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion.”


August 9, 2002: the U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the Newdow vs. U.S. Congress case in which the court struck down the addition of the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional. 


February 28, 2003: the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the addition of “under God” to the The Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, refused to reconsider its ruling, saying it would be wrong to allow public outrage to influence its decisions.


March 4, 2003: the US Senate voted 94-0 that it “strongly” disapproved of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision not to reconsider its ruling that the addition of the phase “under God” to the The Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional.


April 30, 2003: the Bush administration appealed to the Supreme Court to preserve the phrase “under God” in the The Pledge of Allegiance recited by school children. Solicitor General Theodore Olson said that “Whatever else the (Constitution’s) establishment clause may prohibit, this court’s precedents make clear that it does not forbid the government from officially acknowledging the religious heritage, foundation and character of this nation,” and that the Court could strike down the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Newdow vs. United States without even bothering to hear arguments.


June 14, 2003: in the case of Newdow v. U.S. Congress, the US Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit Court decision that struck the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. The 8-0 ruling was reached on a technicality: that Michael Newdow doesn’t have standing to bring the case in the first place. (Constitution Society dot com article)


United States Pledge Allegiance

And the beat goes on…

October 7, 2017:  a federal lawsuit charged that Windfern High School suspended India Landry ,  a 17-year-old Houston student,  after refusing to stand for the daily Pledge of Allegiance.


Landry said that she had sat for the Pledge hundreds of times at Windfern High School without incident,however, Principal Martha Strother removed her after Landry declined to stand for the Pledge.


According to the lawsuit, school administrators had “recently been whipped into a frenzy” by the controversy caused by NFL players kneeling for the national anthem.


The lawsuit also charged that India was told after she was expelled that “if your mom does not get here in five minutes the police are coming.”


Washington Post article on the Pledge’s history.


 

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October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

We know that nothing historic happens by itself. We just forget.

Boomers remember the Cuban missile crisis  as an  October 1962 event, an event that grew from a simple announcement to the shuddering fear of nuclear apocalypse.

What follows is a chronologically simplified list of the various events that preceded the crisis, the crisis itself, and its aftermath.

Bay of Pigs & aftermath

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

April 24, 1961: President Kennedy accepted "sole responsibility" following failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and on November he authorized an aggressive covert operations (code name Operation Mongoose) against Fidel Castro. Air Force General Edward Lansdale led the operation.

Operation Mongoose's goal was to remove the communists from power to "help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime," including its leader Fidel Castro. It aimed "for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962". US policy makers also wanted to see "a new government with which the United States can live in peace". 

February 3, 1962: President Kennedy banned all trade with Cuba. 

US missiles in Turkey

In April 1962: U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey became operational. US personnel reported all positions "ready and manned." 

USSR missiles in Cuba

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

May 30, 1962: Fidel Castro informed visiting Soviet officials that Cuba would accept the deployment of nuclear weapons. 

August 17, 1962: US Central Intelligence Agency Director John McCone stated at a high-level meeting that circumstantial evidence suggested that the Soviet Union was constructing offensive missile installations in Cuba. Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara disagreed with McCone, arguing that the build-up is purely defensive.

Twelve days later, on August 29, a high-altitude U-2 surveillance flight provided conclusive evidence of the existence of missile sites at eight different locations in Cuba. 

September 19, 1962:  the United States Intelligence Board (USIB) approved a report on the Soviet arms buildup in Cuba. Its assessment, stated that some intelligence indicates the ongoing deployment of nuclear missiles to Cuba. 

That same day, the Soviet Union conducted an above ground nuclear test of 1.5 - 10 megatons.

Cuba at the UN

October 7, 1962: Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticós spoke at the UN General Assembly: "If ... we are attacked, we will defend ourselves. I repeat, we have sufficient means with which to defend ourselves; we have indeed our inevitable weapons, the weapons, which we would have preferred not to acquire, and which we do not wish to employ." 
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 14, 1962: a US Air Force U-2 plane on a photo-reconnaissance mission captured proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba. Four days later, on October 18, President Kennedy met with Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Gromyko, who claimed the weapons were for defensive purposes only. Not wanting to expose what he already knew, and wanting to avoid panicking the American public, Kennedy did not reveal that he was already aware of the missile build-up.

Public announcement

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 22, 1962: President Kennedy announced the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba and ordered a naval blockade. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously agreed that a full-scale attack and invasion was the only solution.

October 23, 1962: evidence presented by the U.S. Department of Defense of Soviet missiles in Cuba. This low level photo of the medium range ballistic missile site under construction at Cuba's San Cristobal area. A line of oxidizer trailers is at center. 

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Added since October 14, were fuel trailers, a missile shelter tent, and equipment. The missile erector now lies under canvas cover. Evident also is extensive vehicle trackage and the construction of cable lines to control areas

October 24, 1962: the Soviet news agency Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza (TASS) broadcast a telegram from Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy, in which Khrushchev warned that the United States' "pirate action" would lead to war. President John F. Kennedy spoke before reporters during a televised speech to the nation about the strategic blockade of Cuba, and his warning to the Soviet Union about missile sanctions.

October 25, 1962

The Chinese People's Daily announced that "650,000,000 Chinese men and women were standing by the Cuban people". 

At the United Nations, ambassador Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin in an emergency meeting challenging him to admit the existence of the missiles.

The Soviets responded to the blockade by turning back 14 ships presumably carrying offensive weapons.

UN confrontation

October 26, 1962: in one of the most dramatic verbal confrontations of the Cold War, American U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson asked his Soviet counterpart during a Security Council debate whether the USSR had placed missiles in Cuba. Meanwhile, B-52 bombers were dispersed to various locations and made ready to take off, fully equipped. 

Rudolf Anderson shot down

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 27, 1962: Radio Moscow began broadcasting a message from Khrushchev. The message offered a new trade, that the missiles on Cuba would be removed in exchange for the removal of the Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey.  Cuba shot down a US U2 plane with surface to air missile killing the pilot, Rudolf Anderson. U.S. Army anti-aircraft rockets sat, mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in Key West, Florida.

Detente

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 28, 1962: after much deliberation between the Soviet Union and Kennedy's cabinet, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles set in southern Italy and in Turkey, the latter on the border of the Soviet Union, in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev announced that he had ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. 
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

November 6, 1962: Rudolph Anderson's body interred in Greenville, South Carolina at Woodlawn Memorial Park.
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Hot line

June 20, 1963: to lessen the threat of an accidental nuclear war, the US and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a "hot line" communication system between the two nations. 

August 30, 1963: the "Hot Line" communications link between the White House, Washington D.C. and the Kremlin, Moscow, went into operation to provide a direct two-way communications channel between the American and Soviet governments in the event of an international crisis. 

It consisted of one full-time duplex wire telegraph circuit, routed Washington- London- Copenhagen- Stockholm- Helsinki- Moscow, used for the transmission of messages and one full-time duplex radiotelegraph circuit, routed Washington- Tangier- Moscow used for service communications and for coordination of operations between the two terminal points. Note, this was not a telephone voice link.

Nuclear test ban

October 7, 1963: President John F. Kennedy signed the documents of ratification for a nuclear test ban treaty with Britain and the Soviet Union.
JFK attempts to ease Cuban/US relations
Castro was furious that Khrushchev had not consulted him before making his bargain with Kennedy to end the crisis — and furious as well that U.S. covert action against him had not ceased. In September 1963, Castro appeared at a Brazilian Embassy reception in Havana and warned, “American leaders should know that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, then they themselves will not be safe.”

November 18, 1963: at the Americana Hotel in Miami President John F. Kennedy told the Inter-American Press Association that only one issue separated the United States from Fidel Castro’s Cuba: Castro’s “conspirators” had handed Cuban sovereignty to “forces beyond the hemisphere” (meaning the Soviet Union), which were using Cuba “to subvert the other American republics.” Kennedy said, “As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible.”

That same day, Ambassador William Attwood, a Kennedy delegate to the United Nations, secretly called Castro’s aide and physician, Rene Vallejo, to discuss a possible secret meeting in Havana between Attwood and Castro that might improve the Cuban-American relationship. Attwood had been told by Castro’s U.N. ambassador, Carlos Lechuga, in September 1963, that the Cuban leader wished to establish back-channel communications with Washington.

Kennedy’s national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, told Attwood that J.F.K. wanted to “know more about what is on Castro’s mind before committing ourselves to further talks on Cuba.” He said that as soon as Attwood and Lechuga could agree on an agenda, the president would tell him what to say to Castro. 

November 19, 1963: Kennedy had settled the Cuban crisis, in part, by pledging that the US would not invade Cuba; however that pledge was conditioned on the presumption that Castro would stop trying to encourage other revolutions like his own throughout Latin America. 

Tuesday 19 November 1963: the evening before President Kennedy’s final full day at the White House — the C.I.A.'s covert action chief, Richard Helms, brought J.F.K. what he termed “hard evidence” that Castro was still trying to foment revolution throughout Latin America.

Helms (who later served as C.I.A. director from 1966 to 1973) and an aide, Hershel Peake, told Kennedy about their agency’s discovery: a three-ton arms cache left by Cuban terrorists on a beach in Venezuela, along with blueprints for a plan to seize control of that country by stopping Venezuelan elections scheduled for 12 days hence.

Standing in the Cabinet Room near windows overlooking the darkened Rose Garden, Helms brandished what he called a “vicious-looking” rifle and told the president how its identifying Cuban seal had been sanded off. 

Elie Abel wrote The Missile Crisis in 1966. In it Kennedy is quoted as saying after the crisis: "Any historian who walks through this minefield of charges and countercharges," 

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No Disneyland for Khrushchev

No Disneyland for  Khrushchev

September 19, 1959

No Disneyland for Khrushchev
Khrushchev watching Shirley McClain during a Can Can rehearsal

Nikita Khrushchev

     Nikita Khrushchev had come to power in the Soviet Union following the death of Josef Stalin. He among others, but eventually he was the leader. It was a time of animosity between the West, represented and led by the United States and the Soviet bloc, represented by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). 

     In 1959, the U.S. and Soviet governments surprised the world by announcing that Khrushchev would visit America in September and meet with Eisenhower face to face.

     He arrived on September 15 for two weeks and in addition to many planned diplomatic exchanges, Premier Khrushchev wanted to visit Disneyland. 

September 19, 1959

     Khrushchev arrived in Los Angeles around noon that day. He had flown from New York and expressed his disappointment at not having the "opportunity of coming into contact with the ordinary people, the workers, who are the backbone of the life of the city, the producers of its wealth."
Anti Communists lunch with Communist Head
     20th Century Fox President Spyros Skouras hosted a luncheon for Khrushchev at the Cafe de Paris, the studio's commissary. There was a blitz of requests to attend and many Hollywood stars attended such as Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe among others. Such enthusiasm to attend an event for a Communist leader was ironic given the blacklisting of so many of Hollywood's writers, directors, and actors earlier in the decade because of supposed or actual ties to the Communist Party. A few, such as Bing Crosby, Ward Bond, and Ronald Reagan, did turn down their invitations. [Perhaps Reagan said, "Mr Khrushchev, I am tearing up this ticket!"]

Tomato incident

     During the luncheon, the Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker informed Henry Cabot Lodge, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the he, Parker, could not guarantee the safety of Khrushchev though Parker had thought so earlier. During Khrushchev's entourage from the airport to 20th Century Fox, someone had thrown a tomato at Khrushchev's car. It missed, but still worried Parker.

     Lodge agreed with Parker's concerns and said that another event would replace it. Word got to Khrushchev and sent a note to Lodge: "I understand you have canceled the trip to Disneyland. I am most displeased."

Spyros P. Skouras

     Skouras spoke. He represented the immigrant's American dream. Arriving in the US at 17, selling newpapers, being a bus boy, with his brother investing in a movie theater and then others, by 1932 he managed a chain of 500 theaters.  
      He said at the luncheon, "In all modesty, I beg you to look at me, I am an example of one of those immigrants who, with my two brothers, came to this country. Because of the American system of equal opportunities, I am now fortunate enough to be president of 20th Century Fox."
     Khrushchev's following remarks included how he, too, had worked his way up from manual labor to be the powerful person he was.

Khrushchev Can Can

     After the luncheon, Skouras brought Khrushchev to the soundstage where Can-Can was being filmed. They stopped and greeted various celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe. 

     He said to her, "You're a very lovely young lady."

     Perhaps presenting a dance scene was not the best choice for the prudish leader. After the dance, he denounced that it was a pornographic exploitation, despite his smiles while watching it.

No Disneyland for  Khrushchev

     That ended his Hollywood visit and there was no Disneyland for Khrushchev.  Lodge decided that taking the premier on a tour of tract housing developments instead was the alternative.
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What's so funny about peace, love, and activism?