The year was 1913, when Richard (Red) Skelton came into the world in Vincennes, Indiana. Little did his family know that he would years later emerge as one of America’s best entertainers as well as a staunch defender of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. His journey across the span of the 20th Century included his work as a circus clown, entertainer in vaudeville and eventually achieving a chance to have how own radio and television program.
Yet for many Americans they may never have had the opportunity of being exposed to the noted comic theatrics of the talented movie actor and comedian Red Skelton. For many years he was one of the most sought after talents who entertained generations of Americans on a regular basis. Over the decades this celebrated actor of stage, screen and television brought a number of his famous acts and characters into the homes of millions of viewers.
Yet, for the nation there is probably nothing quite as memorable or as lasting that strikes a patriotic cord in all citizens than his dramatic and famous reading of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance on his radio and television. His 1969 monologue where he immortalized the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance by explaining what each line of the pledge truly symbolizes his truly historic contribution.
At the reading, when he arrived at the phrase “Under God” one could nearly see a tear of pride being shed by millions of listeners and eventually viewers who saw the reading by Red Skelton.
Three decades plus later, it was Skelton’s reading of the Pledge of Allegiance and the importance of the phrase “Under God” that renewed a swell of patriotism when the phrase came under attack in 2002.
What are truly memorable are his memorable comments which he uttered with love and affection at the end, warning about the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. “Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools too?”
This one sentence has lasted the test of time and was used as a buttress against those that attempted to attack the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance as being an attack on the U.S. Constitution for being religious. The people of America and the Pledge of Allegiance won the battle that day. But it is still the native of Vincennes, Indiana whose sterling words one hundred years later, still keep America ever vigilant in protecting the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance and its beautiful and symbolic phrase, “one nation under God.”
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The Red Skelton Bridge spans the Wabash River and provides the highway link between Illinois and Indiana on Highway 50, near his hometown of Vincennes, Indiana. The Red Skelton Performing Arts Center on the Vincennes University campus was constructed in 2006. On May 17, 2006, the Vincennes Sun-Commercial reported that a non-profit group in Red’s hometown of Vincennes, began to renovate the historic Pantheon Theater. According to the article, the stage at the Pantheon will be named in honor of Red Skelton.
One of Skelton’s more famous works was his interpretation of the “Pledge of Allegiance” that has been read into the Congressional record twice and still is widely circulated.
Commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance by Red Skelton
As a schoolboy, one of Red Skelton’s teachers explained the words and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to his class. Skelton later wrote down, and eventually recorded, his recollection of this lecture. It is followed by an observation of his own.
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 forty-eight 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 is 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 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 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.
And now, boys and girls, 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; one 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 if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?
It all began Boys and Girls in 1888.. jf