Flag Day is near (June 14), and the Pledge of Allegiance court case is expected to be decided soon. As an attorney, I am asked about the case's historic precedent. The history of the Pledge shocked my libertarian mind.

The Pledge was the origin of the salute of the horrid National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis). The Pledge's original salute was straight-armed. The Pledge's creator was a National Socialist in the U.S. (Francis Bellamy).

It is a myth that the straight-arm salute is an old Roman salute adopted by Mussolini. According to Dr. Martin Winkler in "The Roman Salute on Film" of the American Philological Association, the salute is not in any Roman art or text. The salute occurs in these films: the American "Ben-Hur" (1907), the Italian "Nerone" (1908), "Spartaco" (1914), and "Cabiria" (1914). In imitation of such films, self-styled Italian "Consul" Gabriele D 'Annunzio borrowed the salute as a propaganda tool for his political ambitions upon his occupation of Fiume in 1919. Earlier, D'Annunzio had worked with Giovanni Pastrone in his colossal epic Cabiria (1914). Mussolini worked with D'Annunzio. Even so, evidence shows that the National Socialist German Workers' Party officially adopted the salute before Mussolini did, not vice versa.

Dr. Winkler didn't know about the original U.S. flag salute (1892) that inspired the films, and that the National Socialist German Workers' Party was inspired by the films and by the Pledge of Allegiance. The U.S. changed the salute during WWII.

P.S. for Dr. Winkler's article see http://www.apaclassics.org/AnnualMeeting/03mtg/abstracts/Winkler.html

For historic photos of the original straight-arm salute to the Pledge see http://members.ij.net/rex/pledge2.html

Rex Curry
Attorney At Law Tampa, FL