I can think of few things more appropriate for Flag Day than Red Skelton’s immortal explanation of the Pledge of Allegiance. When my sainted mother became a naturalized American citizen, she was given a little American flag. I have a treasured photo of my Mom and Dad just after the naturalization ceremony, both happy, and my Mom clutching the flag of a land that she loved long before she became a citizen. I still have the flag, one of my most precious mementoes of my Mom. Continue reading
Red Skelton rose from poverty to become one of the most popular comedians of his day. A comedic genius, he created a gallery of comedic personas: Clem Kaddidlehopper, the Mean Little Kid, San Fernando Red, Freddie the Freeloader and others, which allowed him not only to amuse but also to engage in wry commentary about some of the foibles of his time. Skelton the man was fairly simple: he liked to make people laugh, and he loved God, Country and Kids. The love of God and his dying son I have written about in the post The Pope, the Clown and the Cross. Skelton’s love of God and Country shines through in his rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance which I have written about here.
His love of kids was no mere entertainer’s pose as the following anecdote illustrates:
“Funny how you can go to a doctor’s offices and find magazines that are years old in the lobby. I had to go to a dentist two week ago and found a Golf magazine from the 80’s. I also found a magazine that told me the following story:
Decades ago, a young American was flying across the mountain ranges of Europe on his way to London. Accompanying his friend, a Catholic priest, the two were scheduled to have a meeting with the Pope in England. As the priest talked, the plane suddenly rocked. Then rocked again. Something told the priest the plane was not destined to ever touch land again.
The passengers, busy in their individual conversations, failed to notice, the priest observed, until a flight attendant made an announcement of impending doom. The plane was over a mountain range and losing altitude.
Red Skelton and his unforgettable rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance. Skelton rose out of abject poverty to become one of the great comedians of his time. His comment about the phrase “under God” reminds us how deeply this phrase is embedded in American history:
The addition of “under God” to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 of course echoes this sentence from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The Pledge was altered with that phrase of Lincoln’s specifically in mind. The Knights of Columbus played an important role in getting the pledge changed, beginning in 1951 to say the Pledge with the phrase “under God” inserted at all Knights of Columbus functions. Continue reading
Red Skelton and his unforgettable rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance. Skelton rose out of abject poverty to become one of the great comedians of his time. As the above video indicates Skelton also had his serious side. His message about the Pledge is good to remember this Fourth and every day.
In 1957 comedian Red Skelton was on top of the world. His weekly comedy show on CBS was doing well. He had curtailed the drinking which had almost derailed his career. Not too shabby for a man who had started out as a circus and rodeo clown and who was now often called the clown prince of American comedy. He and his wife Georgia had two beautiful kids: Richard and Valentina Maria. Then the worst thing in the world for any parent entered into the lives of Red and Georgia Skelton: Richard was diagnosed with leukemia. Unlike today, a diagnosis of leukemia in a child in 1957 was tantamount to saying that Richard was going to die soon. Red immediately took a leave of absence from his show. CBS was very understanding and a series of guest hosts, including a very young Johnny Carson, filled in for Skelton during the 1957-1958 season.
One of the forgotten geniuses of American comedy, Red Skelton. Skelton rose out of abject poverty to become one of the great comedians of his time. As the above video indicates Skelton also had his serious side. A remembrance of better times when students pledged allegiance to the country rather than chanting hymns of praise for a living politician.