Red Skelton - The Pledge of Allegiance

The following words were spoken by the late Red Skelton on the Red Skelton Hour television show, January 14, 1969.  He related the story of his teacher, Mr. Laswell, who felt his students had come to think of the Pledge of Allegiance as merely something to recite in class each day.

When I was a small boy in Vincennes, Indiana, I heard, I think, one of the most outstanding speeches I ever heard in my life. I think it compares with the Sermon on the Mount, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Socrates’ Speech to the Students.  We had just finished reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and he [Mr. Lasswell, the Principal of Vincennes High School] called us all together, and he says, “Uh, boys and girls.


"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'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,  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.

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?


God Bless America!

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892.

In its original form it read:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added against Bellamy's wishes, as he wanted the pledge to be used by any citizen of any country. At that time it read:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, and fifty-two years after its original publication, President Dwight D. Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a promise or oath of allegiance to the United States, and to its national flag. It is commonly recited in unison at public events, and especially in public school classrooms, where the Pledge is often a morning ritual. In its present form, the words of the Pledge are:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.(36 U.S.C. § 172)

According to current U.S. custom, as codified by the United States Congress, persons are expected (but not legally required) to recite the Pledge as follows:

by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute. (36 U.S.C. § 172)



Red (Richard) Skelton was born into a circus family on July 18, 1913 in Vincennes, Indiana. Sadly, it was a family without a father. Red’s father died just two months before Red was born. Later in life, Red would honor his father and the life of a clown with a poem entitled “The Circus”.

Red Skelton made his radio debut in 1936. In 1938 he aired his own radio show which ran for 15 years. In 1950 “The Red Skelton Show” was born and ran for 20 Consecutive years, never leaving the list of the country’s top ten shows. Additionally, Skelton appeared in 48 motion pictures, 22 in which he starred. Throughout his life of entertainment he performed before the Queen of England, eight US Presidents, and in three private showings for Popes.

 Even though Mr. Skelton was best known as a pantomimist, he was a composer, artist and author as well. He composed 8,000 songs which include 5,000 musical selections, and wrote 64 symphonies which have been played and recorded by some of the world’s greatest orchestras. His paintings awarded him one of the highest honors an artist can receive, “The Footprints in the Sands of Time”. He also authored five books, and every day he wrote his beloved wife a love note and poem.

 He died on September 17, 1997 after a lingering illness. Those who loved him mourn his passing. Though he entertained millions and made us all laugh, he never forgot the importance of God, country and family. He was one of a kind and no one can ever fill his shoes. Mr. Red Skelton, you are deeply missed and not forgotten.