CRESTVIEW — More than 40 residents, including city leaders, Cub Scouts and veterans, gathered under cloudy skies in the courthouse plaza Monday afternoon for the Crestview Exchange Club's annual Stand Up and Say the Pledge ceremony.
Among them was 4-year-old Shane Roberts, attending the event with his mom, Angela Sims, and his grandmother, Lela Sims. When the ceremony's climax, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance arrived, Shane was ready.
"I know it!" he said, proudly reciting, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America..."
Exchange Club member Sharlene Cox shared a phrase-by-phrase review of the pledge, noting in 1954, "The phrase, 'under God,' was added to separate us from the God-less communist countries."
The Emerald Coast Young Marines presented the colors following a patriotic reading by one of their former members, Michael Warren, who's grown too old to serve in the organization.
Mother Nature also contributed to the patriotic occasion.
As Audrey Hoeft of the Families First Network began singing "The Star Spangled Banner," the sun suddenly burst through the clouds, illuminating the red, white and blue flag and the uniformed students who held it aloft and guarded it.
Young Marines adviser Kathy Warren led the assembly in the recitation of the 31-word pledge, after which many attendees took time to visit the nearby Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial and examine the names engraved on the black marble slabs.
The original pledge
Baptist minister and Christian socialist Francis Bellamy wrote the first "Pledge of Allegiance" in August 1892 for the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. The original pledge read:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."