Red Skelton pauses for a close-up look at the Pledge of Allegiance

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You’ve probably said the Pledge of Allegiance thousands of times. But how closely have you examined its words?

The basic version of the Pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy as part of a movement to promote patriotism. As Bellamy himself explained: “Patriotism and national feeling was at a low ebb. The patriotic ardor of the Civil War was an old story… The time was ripe for a reawakening of simple Americanism and the leaders in the new movement rightly felt that patriotic education should begin in the public schools.”

Although Bellamy was a Christian socialist, his Pledge made no reference to socialism or to God. Later, in the 1920s, the words “my flag” were changed to “the flag of the United States of America,” the idea being that this would remind new immigrants of their new loyalty. In 1942, Congress gave the Pledge official status. An effort by individuals and fraternal organizations to add the words “under God” achieved success in 1954 when President Eisenhower signed the relevant legislation.

Meanwhile, there had already been controversy about the Pledge. In 1940, the United States Supreme Court ruled that nobody could actually be required to recite the Pledge if they didn’t want to — exactly the sort of liberty the Pledge itself refers to. The addition of the words “under God” has also been fodder for debate. One argument is that since the government is supposed to stay out of religion, even a very general statement of faith shouldn’t be in the official version; after all, if any individual wished to say “under God,” they’d still be free to do so.

The pledge was designed to be quick and to the point. But maybe it’s too quick and the recitation becomes mechanical. In the video posted below, you’ll see actor and comedian Red Skelton recite a longer version of the Pledge where the real meaning of the words is explored.

How did you like Red Skelton’s explanation of the Pledge? Let us know what you think in the comments at Facebook. Don’t forget to like and share!

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