Mr. Lasswell’s Pledge of Allegiance as Told by Red Skelton

This somewhat infamous ‘speech’ was given by Red Skelton during his show, the Red Skelton Hour, on January 14, 1969. (The recording was originally posted at Family Guardian) I do find it intriguing that he addresses the words ‘under god’ which has once again become an issue recently in California. While many sit on both sides of the argument as to what the ‘Pledge’ actually means and for what purpose it was created or whether or not it is a prayer, few realize that it has been changed several times throughout its 100+ year history. Certainly it can be argued as a ritual, the ‘Pledge’ is recited with disturbingly socialistic behavior–reminiscent of past dictatorial regimes. I have posted this story not because I am a lover of the ‘Pledge’ or any pledge in general, but because Red Skelton’s interpretation implies a focus on the principles of our founding documents. This is what I applaud. (Striking “all my worldly goods” so that the meaning for the ‘word Pledge’ reads ‘dedicate to give without self-pity’ might appeal more to those of us who enjoy the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…)

Transcribe from from the Red Skelton Hour, January 14, 1969
Listen to it here:

“…Getting back to school, getting back to school, I remember a teacher that I had. Now I only…I went through the seventh grade, I went through the seventh grade–I left home when I was ten years old because I was hungry….I used to…this is..this is true…I worked in the summer and I would go to school in the winter…but I had this one teacher…it was the principal of the Harrison School in Vincennes, Indiana…to me, this was the greatest teacher, a real sage of my time, anyhow…he had such wisdom…and we were all reciting the Pledge of Allegiance one day, and he walked over, this little ol’ teacher, Mr. Lasswell was his name…Mr. Lasswell…He says:

“I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word.

I–me, an individual, a committee of one.

Pledge–dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.

Allegiance–my love and my devotion.

To the Flag–our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there is respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

Of the United–that means that we have all come together.

States–individual communities that have united into 48 great states. 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose, all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for country.

Of America

And to the Republic–a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For Which It Stands, One Nation–meaning, so blessed by God.

Indivisible–incapable of being divided.

With Liberty–which is freedom and the right of power to live one’s own life without threats or fear or some sort of retaliation.

And Justice–the principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.

For All–which means boys and girls it’s as much your country as it is mine.”

And now boys and girls, let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance…

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance – “under God”. Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said, “That is a prayer” and that would be eliminated from schools, too?

Red Skelton
Transcribe from from the Red Skelton Hour, January 14, 1969

Posted in Speeches for the Republic!.