The Pledge of Allegiance, we all know it well. I can remember as a child, standing in my first-grade class struggling to memorize the pledge. I can remember dutifully holding my hand to my heart and rattling off the pledge at scout meetings, sporting events and gatherings. But I don’t remember ever pausing to consider the weight of the words I was uttering. I don’t remember considering the promise I was making to my country.
The original Pledge of Allegiance was introduced in the late 1800s and with Presidential Proclamation 335 started being used in schools in 1892. The simple, one sentence statement was designed to instill a love of country and a desire to carry on the principles this Nation was founded on in the hearts and minds of our youth.
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
With the changing opinions and needs of our Nation, this pledge changed and grew over the years. In 1954 after careful consideration, the Pledge of Allegiance that we recite today was adopted. Great thought and purpose was put into each word. In this mere 31-word pledge, Americans declare their un-wavering allegiance to country and the values and freedoms this Nation was founded on. A very powerful and profound pledge. The best explanation that I have found of what the Pledge of Allegiance should mean to every American was presented by the late comedian Red Skelton. A transcript of his explanation follows as well as the YouTube link to view his presentation. YouTube Link to Red Skelton’s Presentation
“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,
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,
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 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, the right and power to live one’s own life without threats, fear or some sort of retaliation,
and justice – the principle or qualities of dealing fairly with others,
for all – for all, which means boys and girls it’s as much your country as it is mine.”
As Red Skelton does in his presentation, I invite you to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with this new insight into the promise you are making.