Before 1942, American children pledged allegiance to the flag with the Bellamy Salute so named after Francis Bellamy who wrote the pledge of allegiance in 1892. Worried that it might be confused with the Nazi's "Roman" salute, Congress changed the salute to simply placing a hand over the heart.
Swearing of the Pledge of Allegiance is accompanied by a salute. An early version of the salute was the Bellamy or "flag" salute. In 1942, because of the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi salute, U.S. Congress instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem in the United States.
36 star american flag from the civil war.
October 12, 1892: The Pledge of Allegiance first recited in public schools. The Pledge was quite different then -- "under God" wasn't added until 1954. These little Japanese-Americans are saluting the flag in April, 1942. Within a month, they had all been placed in internment camps.