The Pledge of Allegiance has been contested in the courts for years already, by those who defy the inclusion of “under God” in its text.
Actions just this week by Nike, pulling a shoe product that included an image of Old Glory because someone might be offended, have undermined respect for the flag.
But one of the most memorable, and challenging, explanations of the Pledge was given 50 years ago, by a comedian.
It was on Jan. 14, 1969 he explained what he’d learned from his school teacher.
Crediting 7th grade teacher Mr. Lasswell, Skelton recited:
“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’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.
UNITED: That means that we have all come together.
STATES: Individual communities that have united into 48 great States. Forty-eight 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.
AND TO THE REPUBLIC: 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: One nation, meaning “so blessed by God.”
INDIVISIBLE: Incapable of being divided.
WITH LIBERTY: Which is freedom, the right of power to live one’s own life without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
AND JUSTICE: The principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.
FOR ALL: For all, which means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.
Skelton continued: “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?”