Red Skelton was one of the truly great comedians of all times. Who of us who heard him could ever forget his “wittle boy” or “Clem Kadiddlehopper?”
After all these many years I still get a laugh remembering his routine of going into a saloon, walking up to the bar and saying to the bartender in the toughest voice he could muster, “Give me a glass of milk.” Then as every head turned in wonderment and disbelief, he would add, “In a dirty glass!”
One of his best known routines was “The Pledge of Allegiance,” in which he explained the pledge word by word. As we celebrate Independence Day, 2013, I would like to share it with you.
“I remember this one teacher. To me he was the greatest teacher, a real sage of my time. He had such wisdom. We were all reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and he walked over. Mr. Lasswell was his name. He said, “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 my worldly goods to give without self-pity. Allegiance— my love and 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. “of the United States of America—that means we have all come together. Individual communities that have united into 50 great states. Fifty individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose, all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is 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 is from the people to the leaders and not from the leaders to the people.
“for which it stands. One Nation—meaning so blessed by God. Under God, indivisible— incapable of being divided. with liberty—which is freedom and the right of power to live one’s own life without threats or fear of some sort of retaliation. and justice—the principle of equality of dealing with others. for all – which means it is 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’s a prayer,’ and it would be eliminated from schools, too?” Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.