In God We Trust

November 4, 2011 - 4:47 AM
When official Washington wasn't trying to figure out who said what to whom about what Herman Cain might or might not have said or done while he was running the National Restaurant Association ...

SIDEBAR

In addition to its other problems, the National Restaurant Association's acronym is "NRA." You may remember there is another organization which has those same initials: The National Rifle Association.

All week people here have been talking about the NRA and having to add "That's the Restaurant people, not the Gun folks."

END SIDEBAR

... there was a minor issue over the House voting to re-affirm the national motto as "In God We Trust" not, as President Obama thought E pluribus unum "Out of Many, One."

The House vote was, according to the aptly named Christian Science Monitor "396-9, with 2 abstentions."

The phrase "In God We Trust" first appeared on U.S. currency on the two-cent coin in 1864 after the Congress passed legislation allowing in in April of that year. Since 1938 "In God We Trust" has appeared on the obverse (the tails side) of every American coin.

As to "In God We Trust" becoming the offical national motto; that didn't happen until 1956 when the President signed a Joint Resolution making it so. According to the U.S. Treasury, "In God We Trust" was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate.

"E Pluribus Unum" was accepted as a legend on the Great Seal of the United States when the design was finally approved in 1782 and was inscribed on the scroll carried in the beak of the American bald eagle which, according to GreatSeal.com "carries the power of peace & war in its talons."

It is interesting to note that the first suggestions for the Great Seal were submitted by and to a committee of the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

Even back then it took six years for the Congress to come to a conclusion on the final design.

The first iteration of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance was, according to About.com "written in September of 1892 by Francis Bellamy for 'The Youth's Companion' magazine in Boston.

That version pledged allegiance to "my flag." The wording was changed to the current "to the flag of the United States of America" in 1923.

Again from About.com, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance in 1942, but in 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students could not be forced to recite it.

In 1943 the United States was totally immersed in World War II so that was a pretty gutsy call by the SCOTUS.

The Pledge, until 1954 read "... and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

In that year the words "under God" were added at the urging of President Eisenhower who said, "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 and war."

Eisenhower, not noted as having worn his religion on his sleeve, was still President in 1956 when the official motto was determined to be "In God We Trust."

As the media wrings its hands over the intrusion of religion in politics and government, it is useful to remember that in America, it has always been thus.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Christian Science Monitor piece, and to the histories of "In God we Trust," "e pluribus unum," and "one nation, under God." Also a pretty good license plate Mullfoto and an interesting Catchy Caption involving a Thomas Nast cartoon.