Happy Pledge of Allegiance Day, America!

October 12, 2011

The Youth's Companion, 1888.

October 12, 1892 was the day that an estimated 12 million school children recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the very first time.*  After reciting it, their schools and towns prayed or read Scripture.  The principal of every school in Boston, MA read aloud Psalm 145. New York Times, October 22, 1892, page 9.  

1892 was a time of great divisiveness in America. A time when parents wondered if their own children would grow up knowing the blessings of freedom … or if America would fall to socialism.  Yes, socialism.  You see, the ideas of redistributing wealth and nationalizing industry had just entered the American conversation in the late 1800s.  While it was a novel idea at first and while some Americans took its ideas to heart, it unnerved most Americans.  Liberty was facing an enemy it had never faced before and Americans didn’t like it.

One man had another idea. “Could the Stars and Stripes be hung upon the walls of every home and of every school room in the land, how grandly might patriotism and love of liberty be unceasingly taught.”  This idea came from James Upham, a patriot unknown to Americans, but a man who united America during a time of great upheaval.  Upham knew that “love of liberty” would ultimately win the day. 

And so, he began a campaign to place an American flag in front of every school throughout the nation.  A simple idea, yes.  But, one that Americans took to heart.  By 1891, 21,000 schools had a new American flag flying in front of their school.  Later, Upham conceived of the idea to recite a pledge underneath it. 

His dream came true in 1892 – the first Columbus Day, which was also the day America came together to celebrate the 400th anniversary of her discovery.  A great day.  A day of unity, patriotism and love of liberty. 

Today, we brush past Columbus Day as if it is nothing more than a day to shop or sleep in late.  But, its genesis was so much more than that.  It was a day that Americans united to boldly proclaim their love of country and their determination to keep America free. It was the day Christopher Columbus was celebrated like a rock star.  It was the day the Pledge of Allegiance made its debut … and America set aside its differences to celebrate its exceptionalism. 

You have likely never heard this part of our American heritage. What a shame it isn’t taught in schools!  A nation that does not pass along its heritage to the next generation is a nation doomed to die. 

I have spent the last 17 years researching the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.  And if there is any truism about the Pledge, it is this: The history of the Pledge of Allegiance is the history of America’s rejection of socialism.  Pure and simple. 

Tricia Raymond is an expert on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and speaks frequently on this topic.  She is the author of America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance. Watch for the release of her new book, Saving One Nation Under God, How the Pledge of Allegiance Helped America Fight Socialism. Launch date: 11/11/11

* Actually, there were two “first” Columbus Day’s in 1892. The other was October 21, 1892.  No, it wasn’t because of a typographical error.  There was another reason.  But, you have to buy my book to find out what it was!


Red Skelton’s America

July 17, 2011

Today, July 18th, is Red Skelton’s birthday.  For those too young to remember, Red Skelton was one of America’s favorite comedians.  He had a rubber face like Jim Carey and the ability to improvise like Billy Crystal.  Red Skelton made generation after generation of Americans laugh.

But, Red Skelton did something else … he reminded us about how wonderful it is to be an American.   He’s still reminding us today with his recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance that continues to make the rounds through cyberspace and You Tube, heard by millions of Americans. 

Red Skelton’s is the quintessential American story, a rags to riches journey that can only happen in America.  Dropping out of school at an early age to go to work to help support his family, he rose to become a successful entertainer, television host, artist and composer. 

His journey was anything but easy.  Red’s father died two months before he was born.  He had to quit school at an early age to go to work and help support his family.  Two divorces, a child who died from leukemia, a nervous breakdown, rejection by his television sponsor, and a changing culture that shelved his style of comedy were other hurdles Red Skelton overcame during his lifetime.

But, he was loved by the American people, loved because he made them laugh and sometimes, cry.  I remember watching one of his routines as a child that has stuck with me all these years.  It was shortly after the space program had been launched so everything that had to do with space travel captured our imaginations in a big way.

His routine was of an astronaut “walking” in outer space, hooked up to his spacecraft through an attached lifeline.  Without speaking a word, Red Skelton floated through space on the television screen, his face expressing amazement, surprise, levity and wonder as the astronaut revelled in his weightlessness and new found freedom.  But, eventually, his time outside the spacecraft was finished.  As the astronaut began pulling on his lifeline to return to the ship, he realized it had become unattached … and his carefree playfulness quickly turned to terror.  He feverishly tried “swimming” back, but to no avail.  Then reaching his arms as far as they could go, but again, without results.  The stage blackened with Red Skelton’s face frozen in disbelief as he realized the inevitable truth of his demise.

I was stunned.   I had entered the world Red Skelton had silently created and learned a little bit more about the fragility of life and the risks astronauts took to advance space exploration.  Red Skelton was quite a talent.

 His love for America was quite evident.  In 1969, he performed a skit centered on the Pledge of Allegiance, acting out his own childhood experience of his school principle explaining the meaning of the Pledge to the young students.   You can watch it here.    

What is equally amazing is that this type of entertainment was normal a generation ago.  Actors and actresses were patriotic and proud to be so.  There were no rancid diatribes about America, no commentaries about America’s failings.  At the same time, neither was there a robotic fantasy that America had no room for improvement.  There was simply an unapologetic respect for America.  

Interestingly, Red Skelton mentioned at the end of his routine that it would be a shame if “under God” was ever taken out of the Pledge because someone claimed it is a prayer.  That was in 1969, after Madeline Murray O’Hare had successfully fought for the removal of prayer from public schools.  It would take another 33 years before “under God” was challenged.  Michael Newdow  sued his daughter’s school over the phrase. 

Thankfully, Newdow lost his argument.  But, the phrase is still under attack as is the Pledge itself, being put on the back shelf by more and more schools.  One Massachusettes student  fought to have his school keep the recitation.  NBC recently omitted “under God” in its opening for the U.S. Open.  Americans were outraged, and rightly so.

The Pledge of Allegiance is one of America’s most beloved traditions, a unifying recitation that has gone through two edits and encouraged multiple generations of Americans to continue their quest for liberty and justice for all.

Spend a little time today celebrating Red’s birthday by listening to his patriotic routine about the Pledge of Allegiance.  And pray that more American entertainers will openly and unapologetically declare their patriotism to our great nation.

Happy Independence Day, America!

July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day, America!  Or should I say, Happy Independence Day, Republicans?

 According to a recent Harvard study, patriotic fervor resides with Republicans considerably more than with Democrats.  (Substitute “conservative” for Republican and “liberal” for Democrat, and this study would be spot on.)  It goes on to say that children are likely to be “socialized into Republicans” when they attend patriotic celebrations like Fourth of July parades and that Democrats are pretty much wasting their time to cheer the red, white and blue.

 Go figure.  It took Harvard researchers to discover that?!

Every red-blooded American intuitively knows why Fourth of July parades, saluting the flag and placing our hands over our hearts to recite the Pledge of Allegiance reaffirms the tremendous pride we have for this great nation.

 It’s because such displays of patriotism reminds us that freedom is precious, bought with the blood and sacrifice of our nation’s finest heroes, defended even today by brave men and women who volunteer to risk lives in a far off land so that we can live securely at home.

 It’s because we realize that each generation of Americans is charged with the awesome responsibility of passing the torch of freedom on to the next generation.  We don’t want ours to be the generation that messes things up.  Instinctively, we are drawn to displays of patriotism.  It re-energizes us to continue to do our part to pass along this blessed privilege.

It’s because we know we don’t deserve the freedom we enjoy – especially, the freedom to pursue what we believe to be God’s destiny for our lives. And yet, we accept the gift with humble gratitude, hoping our life choices bring honor to our families, our nation and our Lord.

Our ancestors practiced these things much better than we do today.  Way back when … before political correctness … Americans actually looked for ways to impart patriotism to young Americans while refurbishing their own national pride in the process.

On October 12, 1892, national leaders created a nationwide birthday bash to recognize the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.  Christopher Columbus was celebrated like a rock star.  Every town and city throughout the nation proudly celebrated the wonder that is America. The Chicago World’s Fair was dedicated amidst tremendous fanfare.  Recently arrived immigrants of every nationality waved the Stars and Stripes as they marched alongside their new American friends.  On that day, the entire nation joined together under the banner of freedom and for the first time, recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

There’s a lot to be said about patriotic fervor.  It helps us renew our national values, reminds us of our common history and allows us to demonstrate our deep respect for the nobility of America’s ideals.  It’s an object lesson for our children to appreciate the blessing of liberty.  It keeps America strong.

 Whether Democrat or Republican, we are all Americans!  Let’s show our love of country today and every day! 

 Happy Independence Day, America!

NBC Omits ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance

June 21, 2011

The Pledge of Allegiance is under attack again.  This time, it is NBC, known for its leftist slant on most social issues, that is the culprit.  In a beautifully filmed opening for the U.S. Open that otherwise would have left a lump in your throat, viewers were instead left with a bitter taste in their mouths when they heard the Pledge recited sans “under God”.  Mysteriously, “indivisible” was left out as well. 

Since the 1960’s left-leaning Americans have been aggressively trying to take God out of everything … from voluntary prayer in schools to manger scenes at Christmas to “under God” in the Pledge, God is to be evaporated from our culture, our history and our lives. 

 Strangely, at the same time God is being removed, many Americans, myself included, feel as though liberty is disappearing as well. 

Could there be a connection between the two?  A short history lesson may give us some insight into how our ancestors approached that question.

The phrase, “under God”, was added to the Pledge in 1954 … 57 years ago.  That is a fact more and more Americans are coming to know in today’s world of easily accessed information.  But, how many Americans know WHY “under God” was added?

Maybe a short history lesson will shed some light.

It was on February 8, 1954 that Congress chose to introduce the bill to add “under God” to the Pledge.  This was no accident or coincidence.  February 8th was the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Cardinal Mindszenty, a Hungarian priest who was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for the “crime” of  warning his countrymen about the dangers of communism, especially its goal to eradicate all religion and replace God with the State.  In the mid-fifties Cardinal Mindszenty was a hero, well known to many and respected by leaders of the free world for his courageous stand against tyranny.  Today, no one knows his name.

Another name no one knows today is that of Congressman Louis Rabaut (D) from Michigan.  Congressman Rabaut introduced the bill, saying, “… the one fundamental issue which is the unbridgeable gap between America and Communist Russia is belief in Almighty God.” 

Even Winston Churchill warned America of the communists’ goal of eradicating God and religion from the world as part of their quest to dominate the globe.  In 1946, he visited Westminster College in Missouri and said, ” … the communist parties … constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization … “.

Our parents and grandparents got it.  Freedom and God.  God and freedom.  Where there is one, there is the other.

Americans have a sixth sense that tells them when freedom is being threatened.  The millions of Americans who Twittered NBC after the ommission were, in a way, fighting the same fight Cardinal Mindszenty fought … and Winston Churchill fought … and World War II soldiers fought … and our Founding Fathers and Mothers fought … the fight to keep God in our culture and freedom in our country.  Because when God goes, freedom goes too.

The 57th Anniversary of Flag Day

June 14, 2011

June 14, 2011 – Flag Day – will be the 57th anniversary of the first time the Pledge of Allegiance was recited with the phrase, “under God”.  I have a copy of an old black and white photo of Congressmen and Senators standing on the back of a trailer with their hands over the hearts saying it for the first time.  Apparently, it was carried on the evening news that day.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the history of the Pledge of Allegiance is known by so few Americans.  We all know it like we know our own names.  It’s burned in our memories from years and years of recitation in grade school. And yet, we know nothing of the who, what or where of its creation.  More importantly, we know nothing of the “why” … why the Pledge was written and why it was changed twice.

As I’ve researched the Pledge, I’ve come to the realization that the history of the Pledge is as important as the words themselves.  Because the history of the Pledge of Allegiance is the history of America’s rejection of socialism.  For nearly 120 years, the Pledge has acted like a compass – pointing Americans toward true North – toward liberty and away from tyranny.

Today, much of the world is in an epic battle over tyranny and freedom, oppression and liberty.  Concerns that America is closer to socialism than ever before in her history do not warm the hearts of Americans. 

Let’s tell Americans about the history of the Pledge and let them know that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is like reciting a death wish over socialism.   Words matter.  And every word in the Pledge of Allegiance matters.   


MASSACHUSETTES … Where the Pledge was Conceived

June 30, 2010

It’s a shame that a high school in MA will not allow its students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance!  http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/06/29/ma-school-officials-wont-let-students-recite-pledge-allegiance/

Boston, MA is the home of The Youth’s Companion.  It was in this publication that the Pledge of Allegiance was first written and published in 1892 as part of the 400th Anniversary of the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (their official title, not mine … too long!).   My book, America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance traces the untold story of how the Pledge came to exist.  It is America’s history … told through the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.  www.theuspledge.com

A Picture of Our “New” Future

March 23, 2010

Here’s what we have to look forward to when Obama signs the horrendous so-called Health Care bill this morning.  

Before the ink is dry on the paper, they will begin to build the machine that will take away our freedom … new IRS agents will be hired by the thousands and trained in interview / interrogation techniques to make sure you and I have “government approved insurance” … new agencies will be set up to manage every aspect of very intimate and personal choices … computers will be purchased by the millions to scan our health documents and downloaded for access by government bureaucrats … tax dollars will be used to build or refurbish buildings that will be called Community Health Centers so you and I can wait for months to get an appt for second rate care by a “gov’t approved” doctor – NOT the doctor of our choice … while in the waiting room there will be a young lady in another room having an abortion –  paid for with our tax dollars (This WILL happen … Obama’s Executive Order won’t last long, believe me) … you won’t see many elderly people in the waiting room – they have been “counselled” in their “end of life” options and many of them are now gone … all of this, of course, is FREE … we won’t have to pay a dime out of pocket … The Obamunists STOLE our hard earned money to pay for this. 

What’s next in this nightmare?  Mark my words … the very freedom for which our forefathers fought … the right to worship God as we see fit … that is coming down the pipeline …

“… the unbridgeable gap between America and Communist Russia is belief in Almighty God.”  Socialism is first cousin to Communism. Eventually, Obama and his ilk will make it illegal to believe in God.  Don’t laugh!  And don’t cry!  Put that energy to work to win America back!!  We can do this!!

Americans “Win” at Healthcare Summit

February 26, 2010

I don’t know about you, but everywhere I turn, there is immense concern about the future of America.  Everyone is at some level of anxiety, confusion, frustration and anger.  And it all stems from the fact that Washington could care less about “We, the people”.  

Yesterday’s “Summit” on Healthcare demonstrates why our nervousness is slowly turning to outrage  – our President doesn’t have a clue!  What he calls “talking points”, I call foundational convictions held by most Americans.   What he calls continued campaigning, I call continued efforts to reason with the far-left about what makes America great – namely the freedom to pursue our individual destinies, including our right to work out our health care needs privately with the doctor of our choice and completely absent from government interference of any kind.

To do that, we need less government, not more!   Mr. President, what part of “less government” don’t you understand??

Do you really think Americans will go for a mandate to purchase health care?  Is this freedom?  Do you really think Americans will swallow cuts to Medicare?  Is this charitable for our seniors?  Do you really think Americans are nothing more than deep pockets for an already over the top budget?  Is this wise fiscal management?  Do you really think the waste and fraud that already exists in government will improve with such a huge expansion of government? Is this trust in government?  Do you really think Americans will stand for “reconciliation” when we’ve said over and over that we don’t want this legislation?  Is this your idea of transparency?

On the one hand, I am deeply concerned about America.  It seems as if our nation’s government has been taken over by people who either: a) have a malicious plan to turn America into a socialist country, b) have no malicious plan to do so, but are so ignorant about American history, principles and values we will end up a socialist country, or c) simply do not care about America’s future and are willing to gamble it away.

Not a warm feeling.

On the other hand, I am so proud to be an American.  For one thing, (allow me to digress from Healthcare) our military is winning in Afghanistan!! Yay, American military for having such goodness of heart that we meticulously “separate the innocent” from the treacherous before routing them! 

Secondly, Americans do get it!  Did you hear Frank Bluntz’s focus group last night on Fox?  Those people had it goin’ on!  We recognize media hype when we see it.  We know a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  We refuse to be bullied by the Reid’s and Pelosi’s … and the President.  Americans continue to stand up!  We instinctively understand what is at stake and we will not stop fighting for the right to be free.

The President’s plan may have been to make conservative values look bad, but his plan backfired!  Americans want our health care improved, not impaled by a government takeover.  Obama looked bad yesterday.  He looked exactly like what he is … a grandstander. 

The American people are finally beginning to see right through him … and he doesn’t have a clue!


February 24, 2010

Sixty-five years ago today, the Battle of Iwo Jima raged.  6,821 American servicemen gave their lives and over 19,000 were wounded in defense of freedom on Mount Suribachi in 1945.  No other single action by U.S. Marines has suffered such great losses in their 200+ year history.  The iconic photograph of six Marines raising the American flag atop a hilltop, one of the most recognizable wartime photographs ever taken, was taken during that battle. 

One of the many heroes during those horrific days was young Corporal Tony Stein.  Determined to destroy as many of the hunkered down enemy as possible, Corporal Stein singlehandedly killed 20 of them while bombs and shells exploded around him on all sides.   Finally he ran out of ammunition.  Despite that, he courageously ran back to the beach 8 times to retrieve more ammunition and each time he did, he assisted a wounded Marine safely back.   

There are young service men and women defending our freedom today in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives so that we can continue to live in the “land of the free”.  No words can ever completely express our gratitude for their sacrifice and yet, words are all we have to show our thanks.   God bless each and every man and woman who has fought or is fighting for the United States of America!

Abraham Lincoln Never Recited the Pledge of Allegiance

February 16, 2010

Abraham Lincoln, undoubtedly one of our greatest American presidents, never recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  I realize most of you never even considered that he might have … recited the Pledge of Allegiance, that is.  But, he was the first to use the phrase,  “nation under God”.  It was in the Gettysburg Address – “… 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.”

Lincoln’s use of this phrase was one of the arguments used by Congress to justify adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.  That, and the very real threat of a world wide takeover of Communism.

Remember, the U.S. had just come out of a horrible war.  The atom bomb (along with the birth of the development of nuclear weaponry) was not a distant concept.  To that generation of Americans, it was REALITY.  And Communism was no “textbook”  idea either.  The reality of Communist tanks rolling into one small defenseless nation after another was daily on the minds of Americans.  Hence, Communism plus the A-bomb was as real to our flesh-and-blood ancestors as rising unemployment rates is to us today.

So … what to do?  Well, our grandparents had an answer … not the whole answer, not the final answer … but an answer just the same.  Our grandparents (and for you younger readers, great grandparents) went back to the very core of why this nation was birthed in the first place … the freedom for individuals to recognize, acknowledge, worship and glorify God.   That’s right.  Not the right to bear arms … as important as that is.  Not the right to own property … as critical as that is.  Not the right to assemble or to vote or to speak freely or to have a fair trial by peers or the many other freedoms that we enjoy.  As important as each of those freedoms is … as critical as they are to our nation’s security and success … our ancestors did NOT get on a boat and cross an ocean to gain those freedoms.

No. Our ancestors risked their lives for God.  Nothing was more important to them than the ability to live their lives in such a way that they could worship God the best way they knew how … that was the driving force that caused so many to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones.   And that is the bedrock foundation upon which the United States of America was formed.

So, in 1954 a small group of Congressmen proposed that “under God” be added to the Pledge of Allegiance.  Congressman Louis Rabaut, a Democrat from Michigan, said in a speech to Congress on August 20, 1954, “Indeed, the one fundamental issue which is the unbridgeable gap between America and Communist Russia is belief in Almighty God.”

President Eisenhower said this when signing the bill into law, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln planted the seed that America is, indeed, a “nation under God”.  Ninety-one years later, America formally proclaimed this truth.  And they proclaimed it loudly and without shame or doubt … to the world.

Since that time, Americans everywhere recite it daily.  But, sadly, the history behind its origins has been lost … to apathy, to political correctness, to inattention and disinterest in our national heritage.

I hope that I can help revive this small part of American history – the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.  The history of the Pledge is the history of America.  Stay tuned for more.  And, in the meantime, if your interested, visit my web site, www.theuspledge.com and purchase my book.  I have uncovered American history you simply do not know.

Someone once said, “When you change what you know, you change what you put up with.”

Now you know.  Will you continue to put up with a revisionist form of American history?  I hope not.

Happy birthday, Abraham Lincoln (and George Washington)!  And thanks for reminding us that we are, indeed, “one nation under God”.