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Making the pledge

Veterans’ Voices is a new column directed toward veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.


When I was a young boy, my family used to watch a comedian with a name of Red Skelton. This guy could play any person and throughout the show you would laugh. I saw a different side of him concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. So, I thought I would share it. There is also a video that you can search. This was back in 1969.

When I was a small boy in Vincennes, Indiana, I heard, I think, one of the most outstanding speeches I ever heard in my life. I think it compares with the Sermon on the Mount, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Socrates’ Speech to the Students.

We had just finished reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and he [Mr. Lasswell, the Principal of Vincennes High School] called us all together, and he says, “Uh, boys and girls, I have been listening to you recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester, and it seems that it has become monotonous to you. Or, could it be, you do not understand the meaning of each word? If I may, I would like to recite the pledge, and give you a definition for each word:

I — Me; an individual; a committee of one.

Pledge — Dedicate all of my worldly good to give without self-pity.

Allegiance — My love and my devotion.

To the Flag — Our standard. “Old Glory”; a symbol of courage. And wherever she waves, there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, “Freedom is everybody’s job.”

of the United — That means 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 by imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common cause, and that’s love of country —

Of America.

And to the Republic — A Republic: a sovereign state in which power is invested into the representatives chosen by the people to govern; and the 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 — Meaning “so blessed by God.”

[Under God]1

Indivisible — Incapable of being divided.

With Liberty — Which is freedom; the right of power for one to live his own life without fears, threats, or any sort of retaliation.

And Justice — The principle and qualities of dealing fairly with others.

For All — For All. That means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.

Now 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.

1 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 be eliminated from our schools, too?

The Pledge of Allegiance is a promise of loyalty to the United States. The first version of the Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892 to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the explorer, Christopher Columbus, in the Americas. Over the years, more words were added, and the pledge that we recite now was written in 1954:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The Pledge of Allegiance is recited at the beginning of classes in school, and most everyone can say it from memory. It should be recited standing up, facing the flag, and with the right hand over the heart. In the United States Congress, the sessions of the House of Representatives and the Senate begin their daily business with the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Ragged Old Flag

This is a poem that Johnny Cash cited about the flag.

I walked through a county courthouse square. On a park bench, an old man was sitting there.

“Your courthouse looks kind of run-down.” He said “Na, it’ll do for our little town.” I said, “Your old flagpoles leaned a little bit, and that’s a ragged old flag, you’ve got hanging on it.” He said, “Have a seat,” and I sat down.

“Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town?”

I said, “I believe it is.”

He said, “I don’t like to brag, but we’re kind of proud of that ragged old flag. You see, we’ve got a little hole in that flag there. From when Washington took it across the Delaware. And it got powder burns the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it, writing, ‘Oh Say Can You See.’ And it got a bad rip down in New Orleans with Packingham and Jackson tugging at its seams. She almost fell at the Alamo, next to the Texas flag, but she waved on, though.

“She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville, and she got cut again at Shiloh Hill. There were Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg, And the south winds blew hard on that ragged old flag. On Flanders Field, in World War I, She got a big hole from a Bertha gun. She turned blood-red in World War II. She hung limp and low a time or two.

“She was in Korea and Vietnam, And she went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam. She waved from our ships on the briny foam, but they’ve about quit waving her back here at home. In her own good land, she’s been abused, she’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused, And the government for which she stands is scandalized throughout the lands. She’s looking threadbare and wearing thin, But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. Cause she’s been through the fire before, and I believe she can take a whole lot more. So, we raise her up every morning and bring her down every night, We don’t let her touch the ground, and we fold her up right. On second thought, I do like to brag… cause I’m mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag.”

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• • •

— Royal D. Goodman, U.S. Army/Vietnam,

1st Cav/9th Infantry

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