(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Senator Mike Braun passed a Senate resolution in support of the Pledge of Allegiance, and recited Vincennes, Indiana native Red Skelton’s famous “Pledge of Allegiance” speech on the Senate floor.
Senator Braun’s remarks on the Senate floor:
In 2002, 18 years ago, Senator Tom Daschle raised a similar resolution with unanimous support from the Senate. It passed on the floor uneventfully, without amendment.
Today, this body can choose to do the same, to re-affirm our support for the Pledge of Allegiance.
I rise today, too, to honor a Hoosier who understood the innate value of the Pledge of Allegiance to civic education.
In 1969, Red Skelton, the American comedian and entertainer who was well-known for his program on CBS, The Red Skelton Hour, wrote a speech on the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Reflecting on his time in Vincennes, Indiana, he spoke about the value instilled by one of his high school teachers in the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the performance of the speech, CBS received 200,000 requests for copies. The speech would go on to be sold as a single by Columbia Records and performed at the White House for President Richard Nixon.
I think it would honor Mr. Skelton’s memory, and the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance, if it were recited today on the Senate floor. In the words of Mr. Red Skelton:
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 —
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.”
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.
Afterwards, Mr. Laswell asked his students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance together, with newfound appreciation for the words.
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.
Mr. Red Skelton concluded his speech by saying: 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?
Just as those students that day, Mr. Red Skelton included, re-committed to the meaning of the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, I call upon the United States Senate to recommit to the meaning of these words.
There are times today that the words of the Pledge of Allegiance are tossed around without too much care. Other times, they are altered to remove what today is deemed offensive or antiquated.
But Americans should not misuse or abuse our Pledge of Allegiance.
The Pledge of Allegiance is meant to remind Americans of our guiding principles and inspire adherence to those ideas which make our country great: Equality under the law, and recognized rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.