What Is the Bellamy Salute?

The Bellamy salute is a hand gesture consisting of a raised, extended open right hand with the palm facing downward. Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance, recommended that people reciting the pledge perform the salute.

Bellamy wrote the pledge and recommended the salute in 1892 as part of a campaign to get the American flag into every school in the country. Until the 1930s, the Bellamy salute was not controversial. However, people then began to notice a striking similarity between it and the salute used by German Nazis. The resemblance became even more awkward as tensions between the United States and Germany grew, eventually exploding into war in 1941. In response to this, Congress amended the Flag Code in 1942 to indicate that people should rest their hands on their hearts during the pledge.