Apparently, There Are State Pledges of Allegiance

Brian Fields mentioned this on Facebook the other day and I learned something new. I had no idea that many states have their own pledges of allegiance to be recited when saluting their state flag. 17 of them, in fact, including my home state of Michigan. Ours is one of the less obnoxious ones:

Michigan (1972): “I pledge allegiance to the flag of Michigan, and to the state for which it stands, two beautiful peninsulas united by a bridge of steel, where equal opportunity and justice to all is our ideal.”

Others demand that citizens pledge their lives to their state flags:

Whoa! Pledging one’s allegiance and loyalty to an artificially demarcated territory within the U.S. is a tad much already. But pledging one’s life to the state and the state flag counts as fundamentally creepy. Sadly, the Alabama leaders who drafted that pledge probably didn’t do so tongue-in-cheek, as they should have done given the state’s history 150 years back. Rather they did it with deadly seriousness.

Alabamans aren’t alone. Tennesseans had previously done the same: “Flag of Tennessee, I salute thee. To thee I pledge my allegiance with my affection, my service and my life.”

Not much left for the family once those three are surrendered.

The Tennessee pledge was adopted in 1986 without repealing or otherwise superseding the gentler flag pledge that the state had adopted a mere five years previously: “Three white stars on a field of blue. God keep them strong and ever true. It is with pride and love that we salute the Flag of Tennessee.”

Check out the rest of the state flag pledges’ weird grammar, punctuation and capitalization:

Georgia (1935): “I pledge allegiance to the Georgia flag and to the principles for which it stands; Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.”

Texas: (1933, 1965; and 2007 when “under God” was added): “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”

Arkansas (1953): “I Salute the Arkansas Flag With Its Diamond and Stars. We Pledge Our Loyalty to Thee.”

The idea of pledging allegiance to a country — worse, to a country’s flag is one that I find rather appalling. It’s even worse at the state level.

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  • Al Dente

    “Hail, Hail, Freedonia, land of the brave and free!”

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Colorado’s one is the oddest, mostly on account of their flag being Sauron.

  • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

    “So many vows…they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.”

    ― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings (Jamie Lannister)

  • dogfightwithdogma

    I agree with you Ed. Pledges of this sort are awful. Ohio’s pledge (my home state) seems on the face of it rather harmless.

    I salute the flag of the state of Ohio and pledge to the Buckeye State respect and loyalty.

    But I have great problems with offering a blanket pledge of respect and loyalty to anything. There is much about Ohio in the present, particularly its politics, that is deserving of neither respect or loyalty.

  • moarscienceplz

    Al Dente, you upstart!

  • Mr Ed

    I pledge allegiance to the flag of Connecticut, and to the state for which it stands, some really nice houses and a park or two wedged in between Boston and New York.

  • Saad

    Al Dente, #1

    Hahaha! Classic.

  • Dark Jaguar

    Oklahoma’s pledge is interesting. I went to school here and can say I’ve never had to recite it, even though it’s been the pledge since I started going to school. More recently, I’ve found they actually started saying it in school around here, and that was the first I had ever heard of such a thing. I too protest such a thing, on the plain grounds that making minors pledge allegiance to ANYTHING seems wrong to me.

    I will at least say this though. Of all those pledges I’ve read about, Oklahoma’s has the least offensive message. “I salute the flag of the State of Oklahoma. Its symbols of peace unite all people.” is actually a pretty positive message, which unfortunately ignores the sad origins of this state (just because you betrayed an entire people doesn’t mean you can’t betray them again).

  • http://www.facebook.com/eo.raptor.3 eoraptor

    I never understood pledging allegiance to a flag. I mean, what does a flag do? It sits on a pole or a wall all day long, looking pretty. It doesn’t talk, doesn’t act, doesn’t do anything except flap in the breeze. If all I did was flap in the breeze, I wouldn’t get much respect from anybody.

    The proper subject for pledges of allegiance in the USA is the Constitution, obviously.

    I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America,

    and to the republic it defines, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    That’s something I could get behind.

  • Childermass

    The Texas pledge says it is “indivisible” would seem to contradict the state constitution which has a provision allowing a division into five.

  • Synfandel

    I have taken two pledges in my life. Both were voluntary. The first was to queen and country. It expired when I de-enlisted. The second was to my wife. It expires when one of us dies. Neither involved any flag or any god. I doubt there will be a third.

  • ‘smee

    MY wife and I had to recite the pledge when we became citizens of these fair lands.

    We both think it’s a stupid, stupid practice. About as meaningful as eating a cracker, or kneeling on a mat five times a day.

  • dogfightwithdogma

    I don’t recite the pledge of allegiance at all, no matter the circumstances. As a high school science teacher for 22 years, I never joined in the weekly morning recitation of it, though I said or did nothing to actively discourage students from reciting it if they wished to do so. But I would be happy to recite eoraptor’s version. I have for as long as I can remember thought that pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth was at the very least a simply silly thing to do.

  • sytec

    I teach in Texas. We are supposed to have flags and the national and state pledge of allegiance during a certain period in the day. I haven’t done so. However at my previous district they did the pledges over the PA and told us to make everyone stand, and that they were prepared to go to court over that. Not surprisingly, that district was mentioned in some other posts on here where they had gotten entangled with some church/state issues.

  • Synfandel

    dogfightwithdogma says wrote:

    But I would be happy to recite eoraptor’s version.

    Why? Why, as a civilian, would you willingly pledge allegiance to any state? If the state is something you can get behind, it doesn’t need your pledge. If it’s not, well, ’nuff said.

    If I had it to do over again, and I was very young, I would still join the army, because at that time, the Cold War was at its height and the Communist threat was arguably existential. Well, for a lot of Europe, anyway, even if not yet for my homeland of Canada, but we were in it together. (This was a nuclear mutually-assured-annihilation time that most of you probably won’t remember. Trust me: it was deeply scary, and it was not a propaganda fiction; it was real.)

    But, if I’m willing to offer my life to the cause, no one—NO ONE—has any right to require an oath of me. Fuck them. They can have my service to the cause or they can fuck off. Any soldier who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice deserves gratitude, not demands of entitlement. Pledges are a crock.

    Soldiers need to be treated with much, MUCH, MUCH more respect than they are treated by the military and by society at large.

    Fuck pledges.

    Yes, seriously…Fuck pledges!

    We need to end them. Never again. Never.

    If you know anyone who has commited to making the ultimate sacrifice to protect your freedom, thank him or her and shut the fuck up about pledges.

  • Synfandel

    And, by the way, the best thing you can do for your society is not to swear a pledge of allegiance to anything, but to be an informed, intelligent, active participant in the your community and your country.

    Be a good husband or wife.

    Be a good mother or father.

    Pay your taxes.

    Play with your neighbours’ kids.

    Look out for your fellow man.

    Work for a living.

    Join a non-profit.

    Talk with people you meet about what you believe and respect their right to believe what they believe, no matter how stupid it is.

    Read the news.

    Join the discussion.

    Donate to a political party if you can find one you think will help.

    Give that ragged guy a dollar. He’s probably trying a lot harder than you are and you could have been in his place.

    Mow your lawn.

    Recycle.

    Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.

  • Synfandel

    For the too-long-didn’t-read (TLDR) crowd, “Don’t pledge; just don’t be dick.”

  • Synfandel

    I’ve re-read my postings. Sorry about the bad typing. It’s late. I’m tired. I’m a bit wound up by the whole ridiculous concept of pledges.

  • birgerjohansson

    The states around the Great Lakes should pledge their loyalities to R’Lyeh, home of the tentacled ones.

  • captain_spleen

    A bit of a tangent here, but I recently found out that one Civil War regiment from Connecticut had a flag made by Tiffany & Co. Which seems perfect, somehow. Because, of course Connecticut had a Tiffany battle flag.