Good Old Days Newsletter
|In the Good Old Days||'Til Next Time|
Trivia Question #1
When were the words "under God" added to the Pledge of Allegiance?
Trivia Question #2
What do the colors of the U.S. flag represent?
See the answers at the end of this newsletter.
The Pride of Betsy Ross
Today finds us midpoint between two patriotic U.S. holidays, Flag Day (Thursday, June 14) and Independence Day (the Fourth of July, of course). I hope Flag Day found you and Independence Day finds you waving Old Glory proudly.
I can't pass these holidays without thinking of our national standard. Do you remember when the national anthem was played at movie houses before the start of film features? I do. And I also remember how every person stood and either saluted or placed hand over heart as the image of Old Glory unfurled on the screen.
Nowadays, when Janice and I attend public events that are opened by the display of the flag and the performance of the national anthem, I am struck by how few people actually sing the words and how few turn to face the flag as the anthem is played.
I also note how many people begin to applaud long before the anthem is through. One verse of The Star-Spangled Banner takes less than one and a half minutes to sing or listen to. You would think that it's not too much to ask to wait to clap until the last word is sung.
Thinking about the pride of Betsy Ross, I am reminded of something comedian Red Skelton recorded on his CBS television program on Jan. 14, 1969. As a schoolboy, one of Red's teachers explained the words and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to his class. Red later wrote down, and eventually recorded, his recollection of this lecture. It is reprinted below, followed by Red's own observation.
If you would like to see the actual recording from The Red Skelton Show in 1969 when he intoned these words, click here.
"Commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance"
By Red Skelton
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's respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, "Freedom is everybody's job!"
of the 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.
of America — That wilderness continent which was tamed by our courageous forefathers, yet which remains to be protected for our children's children's children.
and to the Republic — A state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. That government is the people, and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
for which it stands — Our Flag is the symbol of that Republic.
one Nation, — Meaning, so blessed by God.
indivisible, — Incapable of being divided.
with Liberty — Which is Freedom. The right or power to live one’s own life, without threat or fear of some sort of retaliation.
and Justice — The principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.
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."
Red's comment: "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 [makes it] a prayer, and that it would be eliminated from schools too?"
Some Pledge of Allegiance facts:
- The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892. The original words: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
- The Pledge was first recited in public schools on Oct. 12, 1892, after a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison. The day was chosen in honor of the 400th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World.
- After a massive influx of immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the National Flag Conference asked for a change in the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance. The phrase "my Flag" was changed to "the Flag of the United States of America" to ensure that immigrants knew to which flag they were pledging allegiance.
- Before World War II, the Pledge began with the right hand over the heart as "I pledge allegiance" was recited. Then the arm was extended, palm upward, toward the Flag as "to the Flag" was intoned. The gesture was meant to symbolize lifting the flag. The arm remained outstretched through the remainder of the Pledge. During World War II, the outstretched arm was too reminiscent of the Nazi and Fascist salutes, so the custom was changed to leaving the hand over the heart throughout the recitation of the Pledge.
- The words "under God" were added as a suggestive nod to a line in President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom ...."
Trivia Question #1
The words "under God" became a part of the Pledge of Allegiance when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill adding the two words on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.
Trivia Question #2
The colors of the U.S. flag don't represent anything, according to the book, Our Flag, published in 1989 by the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead it is the red, white and blue of the Great Seal of the United States of America that has specific meaning:
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to devise a seal for the United States of America. This mission, designed to reflect the Founding Fathers' beliefs, values and sovereignty of the new Nation, did not become a reality until June 20, 1782. In heraldic devices, such as seals, each element has a specific meaning. Even colors have specific meanings. The colors red, white and blue did not have meanings for The Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings. Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:
"The colors of the pales [the vertical stripes] are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief [the broad band above the stripes] signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice."
Click here for a great link for information on Old Glory.
For more information on the Great Seal of the United States of America, click here.
Here is a government link with information on both the flag and the great seal.