Why do they call it that? Francis Bellamy Elementary School: Pledge of Allegiance author lived in Tampa Bay

11:52 AM, Jun 13, 2012   |    comments
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It's a patriotic poem I guarantee you know by heart. But did you know the Pledge of Allegiance's author lived in Tampa Bay?

Why do they call it Bellamy Elementary School?

Like any good kids, the ones in Ms. Allenbaugh's fourth grade class know the Pledge of Allegiance.

But these students also know about the man who wrote it.

"He's Francis Bellamy and he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance," Sarah Krollage said.

"He wrote the pledge in 1892," Ryan Nixon continued.

"It stands for our country," Jenny Le added.

Bellamy's 22 famous words are all over Bellamy Elementary School in Tampa's Town 'N Country neighborhood. And why not?

Sure, Bellamy was a minister and education leader in New England when he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. But did you know what Jenny Le knows?

"Francis Bellamy lived in Tampa from 1924 until his death in 1931," Le said.

Bellamy spent his retirement in a small, humble house on a quiet street in South Tampa.

But when the school district decided about 40 years later to name a new school after him in Town 'N Country, "humble" was not what they were going for.

Red, white, and blue abound here. America's favorite colors are everywhere -- from students' uniforms to the cafeteria's walls.

A floor-to-ceiling flag hangs in the main hallway. Oh, that's not big enough? How about this: the whole school's painted like Old Glory.

From the street, you'll see huge diagonal red and white stripes that change at either end of the building into big fields of blue with a few large white stars.

They even hired an assistant principal who looks surprisingly like Francis Bellamy! They insist he really got the job based on his resume, not his resemblance.

Bellamy's original words have seen two major changes. The phrase "my flag" became "the flag of the United States of America" in the 1920's.

And -- after a push by Christian leaders -- Congress voted to add "under God" in 1954.

Oh, one more big change. Originally, kids saluted by reaching forward with their arm held out and upward in front of them. Where have I seen that before?

Oh yikes!

Adolf Hitler adopted something a lot like that as the Nazi salute.

So around World War II, we changed it up here in the USA. We decided instead we'd salute by keeping our hands over our hearts.

And there -- in the hearts of the people at this school -- is where they hold the man who dreamed up this patriotic way to start every day.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News starting at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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