The original Bellamy salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who authored the original Pledge, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words "to the flag," the arm was extended toward the flag, palm-down.
At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." At the words, "to my Flag," the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.
The Youth's Companion, 1892
Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting "to the Flag," the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.
In World War II, the salute too much resembled the Nazi salute, so it was changed to keep the right hand over the heart throughout..
The most common salute is derived from the British salutes. The origins of it are lost in time. However there are possible origins.
The most popular version is that it came from the practice of raising your hat. As raising a helmet can be impractical, it was changed to the salute. Another version is that it came from Roman soldiers shading their eyes from the light supposedly coming from their officers. A third is that it is a way of showing that your right hand (weapon hand) isn't carrying a weapon. A third is that it came from the days of knights in armor where you raised the helmet to be recognised.
The reason for the right hand is that it was considered to be the more important hand and a salute is a mark of respect to a superior so you should use your most important hand.
Read more: Why do soldiers salute with their right hand? | Answerbag http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/163940#i...