Nothing shuts down a person's higher reasoning functions quite as fast as the word "tradition." If it was good enough for our ancestors, it must be good enough for us, damn it!
Unfortunately, some of the most "ancient traditions" still followed today come from people who knew this, and just made them up off the top of their head.
According to this ridiculously schmaltzy video, this video with a hilariously ironic choice of music and 90% of the people in states beginning with the letter A, the pledge is an inviolable American tradition. Given the massive hissy-fit that erupts any time someone tries to change a single word, you'd think the version you grew up reciting was written into the constitution after the Founding Fathers watched a giant bald eagle fuck every letter into Plymouth rock.
An image that would bring a tear to Captain America's eye.
How Old It Actually Is:
The idea of pledging allegiance to the flag was basically an early viral marketing gimmick. It was first published in 1892 in a wildly popular children's magazine named The Youth's Companion. The much-bitched-about "under God" was only added to the pledge in 1954.
Who Made It Up:
Daniel Ford, the man who ran The Youth's Companion, dreamed of putting an American flag in every classroom in the country.
The man loved him some America.
Within a year, 30,000 flags had been sold. Our calculators tell us that comes out to $300,000, which was a lot more impressive a sum in 1892. The man who actually wrote the pledge was a former minister named Francis Bellamy. He was a Socialist (aka, a dirty commie) whose stated mission was to create in America's youth a habit of automatic reverence and utter loyalty to the country. He even came up with an original salute for children to give while reciting the pledge...
Things got awkward around '41.
The decision to add "under God" was made at the height of America's brief flirtation with paranoid schizophrenia, otherwise known as McCarthyism. Congress felt the pledge, like most people at the time, just wasn't American enough. How were these children standing around the American flag, pledging "allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands" to know that they weren't in the Godless Soviet Union? Thus, Congress added God to the pledge, and every generation who passed through a public school after 1954 was transferred into a flawless vessel of patriotism.
5Bushido - The Ancient Code of the Samurai
For centuries, the samurai and their spiritual descendants followed "the way of the warrior," living lives governed by its tenets of honor, strict devotion to one's master and, above all, self sacrifice. This ancient tradition helped make World War II a hell of a lot scarier, since, according to the Internet, "Kamikaze pilots used the samurai and their code for inspiration ... Just like the samurai, kamikaze pilots had no fear of death, and were honorable men that were loyal to their country."
How Old It Actually Is:
The idea that samurai are either loyal to their country or eager to die in battle is approximately as old as Walt Disney. Bushido as a coherent ideology only dates back to 1905.
Who Made It Up?
The whole thing started with an honest, if retarded mistake by a historian named Nitobe Inazo, who based his 1905 book Bushido: The Spirit of Japan on rules written for samurai. This is the equivalent of reading a high school handbook and determining that teenagers live by a strict code of attending class, and turning weed dealers in to the cops.
According to Karl Firday, professor of history at the University of Georgia and author of a bunch of really smart books on Japan, aside from laws that they were told to follow, the history of the samurai is notable for a complete lack of evidence that they were any more happy to die in battle and even a little bit loyal. It's entirely possible that a warrior sacrificing his life was seen as noble, but that's no different than the European code of chivalry which also made room for honorable suicide. In fact, the evidence paints a picture of samurai that looks more like a modern professional athlete than what we see in our martial arts films. They'd fight and kill for you as long as the money was right. When it wasn't, they'd switch sides, and slice the word "for" clean out of the previous sentence.
So if Japan was one big game of "fuck your buddy with a sword" and Europe was the land of the noble warrior falling on his, how did a bunch of Japanese pilots find themselves swan diving at air craft carriers while saying prayers to the medieval equivalent of Terrell Owens?
As it turns out, our modern concept of Bushido developed as a method of social control. The Emperor and the Imperial Army and Navy wanted something that would boost their men's fighting spirit. When Nitobe Inazo sucked at his job badly enough to write that "the way of the warrior is to die," they all just sort of nodded and said, "Yep, that's the way of the warrior alright!"