by Bernie Otis, Featured Contributor
AS A SCHOOLBOY, one of Red Skelton’s teachers explained the words and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to his class. Skelton later wrote down, and eventually recorded, his recollection of this lecture. It is followed by an observation of his own. I remember this one teacher. To me, he was the greatest teacher, a real sage of my time. He had such wisdom. We were all reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and he walked over. Mr. Lasswell was his name . . . He said: “I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain the meaning of each word:
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I – – Me; an individual; a committee of one.
Pledge – – Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.
To the Flag – – Our standard; Old Glory; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody’s job.
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.
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.
Indivisible – – Incapable of being divided.
With Liberty – – Which is Freedom; the right of 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.
In my new Book “How to prepare for Old Age—Without Taking the Fun Out of Life” which will be on Amazon and Barnes and Noble this week I discuss how to live a full and complete life. The events in South Carolina this past week have raised the following question in my mind?
What does an obviously racist act have to do with Preparing for Old Age? I would suggest that it is part of the challenge we face as we travel the journey of life.
How enjoyable we live our lives and dedicate ourselves to helping others we meet along the way enjoy theirs, demands that each one of us needs to look at our inner soul and ask what do I do every day to make life better?
I attended a meeting of my Rotary Club earlier this week and when the President asked the club to stand and Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the USA I stood silent and listened to the words that my friends were speaking and wondered how many Americans when they recite that beautiful pledge realize what they are saying.
I pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the united States of America and to the Republic for which it stands.” And then we express what it stands for “It stands for “One Nation” one nation, not multiple entities but one united Nation. “Under God” A nation that has a spirituality committed to the highest ideals. “With liberty and justice for All” What could be more clear-we are not a nation of separatists, but a nation which respects individual rights and beliefs for the common good.
I would like to suggest that every American consider the meaning of these words and make a new commitment to living each day in a manner that enriches their lives and helps build a community that respects the rights of all of its inhabitants to enrich theirs as well.
And to the parents of the country I would suggest that you have it within your power to teach your children, from their earliest age the meaning of the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.
What better way to ensure a happy journey from birth to old age?
Editor’s Note: Bernie’s new book – “How to Prepare for Old Age —- Without Taking the Fun Out of Life” is now available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble