Red Skelton's Rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance

Red Skelton Explains the Meaning

of the Pledge of Allegiance

On January 14, 1969, Red Skelton digressed from his usual comedy routines to deliver a serious message. Listen as he describes—in his unique way—what he was taught about the Pledge of Allegiance, and listen at the end when he adds his own message.

"Now getting back to school...getting back to school, I remember a teacher that I had. Now I only...I went...I went through the seventh grade...I went through the seventh grade. I left home when I was ten years old because I was hungry. I used to...this is...this is true...I worked in the summer and go to school in the winter. But I had this one teacher, he was the principal of the Harrison School, in Vincennes, Indiana. To me, this was the greatest teacher, a real sage of my time, anyhow. He had such wisdom. And we were all reciting the Pledge of Allegiance one day, and he walked over. This little old teacher...Mr. Lasswell was his name...Mr Lasswell was his....

"He says:

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?


me, an individual, a committee of one.


dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.


my love and my devotion.

to the flag
[of the]

our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there's respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts 'freedom is everybody's job'.


that means that we have all come together.

[of America]

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'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 the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

for which it stands
one nation

one nation, meaning, so blessed by God.


incapable of being divided.

with liberty

which is freedom, the right or 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?"
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