Bellamy Salute

The Bellamy salute is a salute chosen by American socialist Francis Bellamy to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he wrote. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the ‘flag salute.’ 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.

It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the Flag Code in December of 1942. The inventor of the saluting gesture was James B. Upham, junior partner and editor of ‘The Youth’s Companion.’ Bellamy recalled Upham, upon reading the pledge, came into the posture of the salute, snapped his heels together, and said ‘Now up there is the flag; I come to salute; as I say ‘I pledge allegiance to my flag,’ I stretch out my right hand and keep it raised while I say the stirring words that follow.’

In the 1920s, Italian fascists adopted the Roman salute to symbolize their claim to have revitalized Italy on the model of ancient Rome. This was quickly copied by the German Nazis, creating the Nazi salute. The similarity to the Bellamy salute led to confusion, especially during World War II. From 1939 until the attack on Pearl Harbor, detractors of Americans who argued against intervention in World War II produced propaganda using the salute to lessen those Americans’ reputations.

Among the anti-interventionist Americans was aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh. Supporters of Lindbergh’s views would claim that Lindbergh did not support Adolf Hitler, and that pictures of him appearing to give a Nazi salute were actually pictures of him performing the Bellamy salute. In his Pulitzer prize winning biography, ‘Lindbergh,’ author A. Scott Berg explains that interventionist propagandists would photograph Lindbergh and other isolationists using this salute from an angle that left out the American flag, so it would be indistinguishable from the Hitler salute to observers.

One Comment to “Bellamy Salute”

  1. You are another victim of wakipedia. Francis Bellamy was not a sociologist. He was a socialist. He was promoting socialism via robotic chanting by children in groups to flags in government schools. The salutes adopted by Italian socialists and German socialists were not merely similar in form, they were the same as the gesture used for decades for mechanical chanting in the USA. Bellamy and his pledge was the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior (see the work of the historian Dr. Rex Curry). It was not an ancient Roman salute. That is an old debunked myth. The Roman salute arose from the USA Pledge of Allegiance because Bellamy was from Rome, NY, not Italy. The Italians picked up the American socialist salute and practice. Photos of Lindbergh appearing to give a “Nazi” salute were actually pictures of him performing the Bellamy salute because the Bellamy salute, in practice, WAS the Nazi salute, and the origin of the Nazi salute. Even the quote admits that the only distinction was the flag: “propagandists would photograph Lindbergh and other isolationists using this salute from an angle that left out the American flag, so it would be indistinguishable from the Hitler salute to observers.” It was the same gesture.

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