Posts Tagged ‘America’

Prayer Offered in U.S. Congress on February 8, 1954

February 8, 2013

Remarks by Senator Ferguson - 2/20/1954

Remarks by Senator Ferguson – 2/20/1954

Mid 20th century America was so different from today’s America, it is hard to believe that we live in the same country. If you are 50 or older, you know what I mean. If you are younger, you have no idea what I am talking about. And, believe me, despite the medical and technical breakthroughs, despite the passage of no-fault divorce and the “freedom to choose”, despite the new world of equality between the sexes, despite what so many of you believe to be the construction of a “better world” – you are the poorer for not having experienced the blessing of what it was like to live in America in the 1950s.

Make fun of Ozzie and Harriet all you want. Deride the Cleaver family to your heart’s content. Lecture me about the hypocrisy of the 1950s church til you’re blue in the face. I’ll take my growing up years over yours any day of the week. Hands down.

We were safe in our homes. We rode the bus to school without fear. We sat in our classrooms without armed guards. We respected our elders. We loved our country.

And we knew that God watched over us – our parents, our teachers, and our political officials told us so.

As evidence of this, on February 8, 1954 the second session of the 83rd U.S. Congress opened with a prayer. “Bestow upon us the endowments of Thy divine benevolence that this Chamber, that this Capitol remain the fortress of man’s God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a beacon to dispel the dark forces of death, tyranny, and the very denial of Thy Holy Name.”

Two days later, Senator Homer Ferguson, in partnership with his colleague, Congressman Louis Rabaut, introduced a joint resolution to add “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. “Spiritual values are every bit as important to the defense and safety of our Nation as are military and economic values. America must be defended by the spiritual values which exist in the hearts and souls of the American people. Our country cannot be defended by ships, planes, and guns alone,” remarked Ferguson.

The pages of the 1954 Congressional Record are filled with similar-themed speeches regarding America, America’s Christian heritage, and the critical role Christian values played in the protection of America from the “dark forces of death and tyranny”.

If you know your history, you know that this class of Congressmen had Soviet Russia first and foremost on their minds. The terror of nuclear weapons in the hands of God-hating communists was palpable at that time in history. But, the respect for Christian values voiced in the 1954 prayer and speeches also paved the way for the civil rights battle that was brewing on the horizon, a battle that was largely won based on Christian values articulated and practiced by a Christian leader.

America did, indeed, go on to win the battle for civil rights for minorities as well as the battle against tyrannical communism. Sadly, and many would say, tragically, the demise of communism under Ronald Reagan’s administration was the last time America stood as the “shining city on a hill.”

God is still watching over America, but I cannot help but wonder what He is thinking about this great nation that once institutionally revered His name, respected His ways, spoke openly about His blessings, and warned regularly about His wrath.

I remain hopeful, but cautiously so, that Christians will once again step up to lead this nation back to greatness – “a beacon to dispel the dark forces of death, tyranny, and the very denial of Thy Holy Name.”

Businesses Honor Veterans and America

November 10, 2011

Stories abound these days of people, schools and communities that wish to do away with the Pledge of Allegiance and flying Old Glory.  I regularly document such occurences, hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of doing away with patriotic fervor.

But, in honor of Veteran’s Day, I’d like to turn the corner and highlight a few locations in America that are red, white and blue to the core. 

Just this week, I read about the Bayshore Patriots, a group in Tampa Bay, FL who regularly gather at Patriot’s Corner every Friday during evening rush hour to fly the American flag.  For the last ten years, as a way to express their patriotism after 9/11, the Bayshore Patriots have shown up at the same location from 4:30 – 6:00, rain or shine, to wave Old Glory.  Last year, they added a monument of sorts – a steel beam from the World Trade Center – a symbol of a nation still standing after being attacked.   The group plan to continue their patriotic flag waving until every troop returns home from war.

Dave’s All American Pizza in Danville, IN is another example of a business with a patriotic flare. An enormous American flag greets guests and a 20 foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty stands watch in the main dining room. The parking lot has special spaces reserved for veterans and nearly every branch of the military is represented by manequins wearing the uniform. Veteran’s Day eats are pretty good, too. This Veteran’s Day, Dave is serving up free prime rib for the lucky vets who come to see this all American eatery.

Finally, there is Chick and Ruth’s Deli in Annapolis, MD.  Proprietor Ted Levitt, a true red, white and blue patriot, began the tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day in his deli in 1989. That’s right. Every day of the week, no matter how busy, the entire restaurant stops, stands up, faces the flag over the register, places their hands over their hearts and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s me with Ted when he graciously allowed me to lead the Pledge of Allegiance after I published my children’s book, America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance.  My new book for adult readers, Saving One Nation Under God, was released this week and is available on Amazon.

If you ever visit these locations, please be sure to stop in.

 

God and the Fifties

November 3, 2011

On November 1st, the House of Representatives voted to reaffirm the national motto, “In God we trust”.  The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the move, making it a rare bipartisan vote. 

 “In God we trust” became America’s national motto in 1956, just two years after “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.  It had been added to the currency and coins of the United States in 1955.  So, for three years running, you could say that God was discussed favorably in the halls of the U.S. Congress. 

 The reason for this was because America was facing communism and its threat to  gain worldwide power.  In the 1950s, this was deadly serious business. 

 Communism was to the 50s generation what radical Islam is to this generation of Americans. 

 The Elvis generation seemed to understand that communism threatened not only America, but western civilization as well.  That included the Judeo Christian principles on which America was founded. 

 If you were to read the pages of the Congressional Record during those years, especially in 1955, (I know no one is crazy enough to do such a thing. But, yes, I have read them and still do from time to time. The Congressional Record can be found in any federal courthouse; they are still being digitized, so you have to read an actual book.) you would discover that Christianity was not only recognized by Congress, it was applauded, defended and honored.

 Here is just a sample of some quotes:

“Our Nation is founded on a fundamental belief in God, and the first and most important reason for the existence of our Government is to protect the God-given rights of our citizens.” ~ Senator Homer Ferguson (R-MI), February 10, 1954

 “Communism has a theory and a practice; it wishes to be not only a state but a church…”  ~ Representative Clyde Doyle (D-CA), as read into the Congressional record, February 12, 1955

 “For under God this nation lives.” ~ Representative Louis Rabaut (D-MI), August 20, 1954

 “What better training for our youngsters could there be than to have them, each time they pledge allegiance to Old Glory, reassert their belief, … in the all-present, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Creator.” ~ Senator Alexander Wiley (R-WI), May 4, 1954

 Today, while attacks rage against the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and while bipartisan votes to reaffirm the national motto barely get a minute’s mention in the news, we would do well to study this era of our history and teach it to our youngsters.  Whether it’s a radicalized version of religion or a political system that takes away individual freedom, America’s heritage, most especially its embrace of Christian religion, is certainly worthy of passing along to the future generation, both for its educational value as well as its ability to renew the American principles that have strengthened us in times past.

Please go to my Facebook page to continue learning about the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Thanks!

Seattle Parents Attempt to Rewrite Pledge of Allegiance

October 28, 2011

In an apparent attempt to “globalize” an American public school and eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance, some parents have rewritten the Pledge.  The battle at the John Stanford International School  has been all over the news this week because one of its parents, an Air Force veteran mom, was horrified at the thought of her young daughter being exposed to the school’s daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. It did not jive with her desire to raise her child with a “one world” perspective rather than an American perspective.  

Here is what the parents offer as an alternative: “I pledge allegiance to the Earth and all it’s [sic] natural systems. Interdependence is what I seek, on one planet, with one people, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The move to unravel America’s national fabric is dangerous.  And it’s always led by those who are either dedicated to or sympathize with socialism.  The Pledge of Allegiance unifies Americans around American values.  Socialists wish to do away with American values, particularly the Christian religion, and replace it with socialism.  That is why there is so much anger over the phrase, “under God”, being in the Pledge.  And that is why there is a move to rid the nation of it altogether.  If it were not successful in unifying Americans, no one would care.

A nation must have common beliefs, values, history and traditions in order to survive. The Pledge was always meant to be a means to teach children about America and its values.  And it has served us well in that regard.  Since the late 1800s, American children have been pledging their allegiance to the flag, the symbol of freedom and over time, this nation has made progress in bringing liberty and justice to more and more citizens.

Fortunately, there is a good number of parents who support the new principal’s decision to follow state law and recite the Pledge of Allegiance like the rest of the nation does.  I hope they organize and stand firmly behind the principal’s decision, which was the right decision.

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.