HAPPY 244TH BIRTHDAY AMERICA: JULY 4, 2020
Origins: Red Skelton, a veteran comic who played a sentimental clown figure in vaudeville and radio, delighted television audiences for twenty years playing characters he had perfected on radio — Clem Kadiddlehopper, Freddie the Freeloader, and the Mean Widdle Kid — on his weekly variety television program, “The Red Skelton Show.” On 14 January 1969, he offered his television audience his memory of an incident from his schoolboy days in Indiana. Mr. Lasswell, Skelton’s teacher, felt his students had come to regard the Pledge of Allegiance as a daily drudgery to be recited each morning at school; they had lost any sense of the meaning of the words they were speaking. As Skelton related the story, Mr. Lasswell told his class: “I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it’s becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?” I have taken the liberty of tweaking just a few of Red Skelton’s words in order to remind us of the same things on this day before America’s 244th birthday.
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 should be respect because of the loyalty and sacrifice of her people who shout: “freedom is everybody’s job”.
OF THE UNITED: And that means that we have all come together.
STATES OF AMERICA: Individual communities that have united into 50 great states. Fifty individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided by boundaries yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for a country that is free!
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, “together we stand, divided we fall”
UNDER GOD: That is through Jesus Christ, who died for the freedom of everyone’s slavery to sin
INDIVISIBLE: Incapable of being divided, as long as we keep these truths evident
WITH LIBERTY: Which is freedom, the right of privilege to live one’s own life without threats, fear, shaming, or some sort of retaliation.
AND JUSTICE: The upheld principles, qualities and laws of dealing fairly with others.
FOR ALL: For all— which means, all American people, it’s as much your country as it is mine.
And now, will you please STAND, Place your right hand over your heart, and let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance?
Happy Birthday America!