The Knights of Columbus initiated a campaign in 1951 for the public adoption of the phrase “under God” in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. One year after Supreme Knight Hart took office in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law that officially added the words “under God” to the pledge.
In the following years, the Knights made significant contributions to the Catholic Church in America. In 1953, a Catholic advertising program launched by Knights in Missouri was officially adopted by the Order as the Religious Information Bureau. It later became known as the Catholic Information Service when it moved to New Haven in 1969, through which Knights printed and disseminated brochures and pamphlets about the Catholic faith. The program also included a correspondence course for subscribers to learn about or clarify their knowledge of Church teachings.
Finally, the close of the 1950s saw the completion of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Order contributed $1 million toward the completion of the church’s bell tower, known as the Knights’ Tower, and more than 1,000 Knights formed an honor guard for the dedication.
1951: The Order votes to fund the microfilming of irreplaceable documents from the Vatican Library, some dating to the pre-Christian era. The library at St. Louis University is named as the repository for the microfilm. By the 1956 opening of the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library at St. Louis University, 9.5 million manuscript pages have been microfilmed and made available for scholars.
1953: Luke E. Hart becomes supreme knight; he is the first supreme knight to move to New Haven to assume his duties, reflecting the development of the Knights as a corporation.
1953: For $2.5 million the Knights of Columbus purchases the land that Yankee Stadium is built on. When news breaks of the Knights’ acquisition, councils and members send congratulatory telegrams to New Haven.
1953: A Catholic advertising program launched by Missouri Knights in the 1940s is adopted nationally by the Order. The ads encourage readers to learn more about Catholic teaching by contacting the Religious Information Bureau, later called the Catholic Information Service.
1954: On June 14, 1954, Flag Day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a law adding “under God” to the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, completing an effort Knights began three years earlier.
1959: On Nov. 20, 1959, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is dedicated with a more than 1,000 Knight honor guard. Knights contributed $1 million, via a $1.25 per-capita assessment over five years, for construction of the 329-foot bell tower.