With the birthday of our nation upon us, it appalled me to hear of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Court's decision that our Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. The pledge that I have so proudly recited for almost 50 years ... Unconstitutional? What about MY freedom of speech? How could it take someone 48 years to decide that the two words, "under God," added in 1954 were unconstitutional? When I heard this, it reminded me of one of the many mp3's that I've collected over the years. This one a recording of Red Skelton, about a speech he heard from one of his teachers as a child. It goes like this:
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 called us all together and he said:
Boys and girls, I have been listening to you recite the pledge of allegiance all semester and it seems that it has become monotonous to you. Or could it be you do not understand the meaning of each word? If I may, I would like to recite the pledge and give you a definition for each word.
Me. An individual. A committee of one.
Dedicate all of my worldly good to give without self-pity
My love and my devotion
"to the Flag"
Our standard. Old Glory. A symbol of courage and 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 we have all come together
Individual communities that have united into 48 great states, 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided by imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common cause, and that's love of country
"And to the republic"
A republic. A sovereign state in which power is invested into the representative chosen by the people to govern. And the government is the people, and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people
"for which it stands"
meaning so blessed by God
incapable of being divided
Which is freedom, the right of power for one to live his own life without fears, threats, or any sort of retaliation
the principle and qualities of dealing fairly with others
for all, that means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.
Now let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance
I Pledge Allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the republic
For Which It stands
Once Nation, Indivisible
With Liberty and Justice for all.
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 of someone said that is a prayer and that be eliminated from our schools too?
How sad that Red Skelton's prophecy has come true. While browsing the web, I found a BBC site that had a poll about the unconstitutionality of our Pledge. One person very eloquently stated "Why is it always the wishes of the few in America that always outweigh the wishes of the many. With all the suffering on the planet, it is amazing how some must suffer indignation. The constitution says 'freedom of religion,' not freedom from it."
If you would like to hear the original recording of Red Skelton, you can download it in mp3 format here. If you have difficulty downloading it, right click on the link and "Save Target As" or "Save Link As" depending on which browser you use.
The day after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided the Pledge was unconstitutional, Circuit Judge Alfred T. Goodwin stayed his ruling until other members could decide whether to change course. The U. S. Justice Department announced that it would request a hearing by the full 11 judge court. So, for now, we can still say:
I Pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
with liberty and justice for all.
May God Bless America
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