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It wasn’t many years ago, or at least it doesn’t seem that long ago, when I came across a video of a Red Skelton sketch related to the Pledge of Allegiance. OK, OK, so as soon as I mentioned Red Skelton I realized that was probably a long, long time ago.

Anyone under 40, maybe 50, probably has no idea who Red Skelton is or was. He was a comedian when comedians didn’t have to swear for a laugh.

In any case, he did a wonderful skit where he analyzed the words, almost word for word, of the Pledge of Allegiance.

For the purposes of today, I am only interested in three sections of this commitment.

First of all, let me say that, wholeheartedly, I support engagement. I am proud to be an American. I am proud of what this country represents. We wouldn’t have an immigration problem if it still wasn’t the best place on the planet to live.

Yes, we have problems. Which country does not? Yes, things have happened that I am not proud of. But our challenge is to put the past in the past and move forward. None of us can change things that happened hundreds of years ago.

None of us can change the decimation of Native Americans. None of us can change the atrocities of slavery.

Some horrible things have happened in American history. We must NOT forget these things, but we cannot constantly dwell in the past.

What we CAN CONTROL is THE FUTURE!

We can teach our children and grandchildren that America is still the greatest nation in the world.

As I review the Oath of Allegiance, I am really concerned about the phrase “of the United States of America”. The truth is, we are far from united. Are the good people of Georgia really united with the people of Vermont or California?

I am concerned about the expression “One nation under God”. Politically correct people have done their best to take God out of America. Make no mistake here, I know any child can say a silent pre-school prayer to their God. You know what I’m talking about.

I am really worried about the word “indivisible”. Yes indeed. We are so divided that it is pathetic. Our government in Washington cannot do anything about the political chasm that exists in Washington.

I don’t think the framers of our Constitution ever imagined professional politicians. I suspect they saw a representative government being sent to Washington for a few months a year to resolve issues that may have arisen since their last session.

I also have other concerns about the pledge. For example, pledging allegiance to the flag. Red said “wherever she beckons there is respect.” Have you watched any of the National Women’s Football Team games lately, or an NFL game, or even the Olympics? Respect for the flag is perhaps at its lowest point in my memory.

I worry about “freedom and justice”. Red called righteousness “the principle or qualities of dealing fairly with others.” Today you could bring justice into retribution. We ask for justice for this or justice for that. If we don’t get “justice,” we’ll take our frustrations out on the rest of the community, innocent people who had nothing to do with an original incident.

I was fortunate enough to have attended one of the concerts, if not the original, where Lee Greenwood made his “God Bless the USA” debut. I still love this song.

“I thank my lucky stars for living here today because the flag still represents freedom and they cannot remove it.”

This freedom allows you and I to disagree, it allows us to protest against the inequalities that still exist. The very first amendment to our Constitution guarantees us the freedom to express our disagreements, but as a nation we have lost our sense of civility when we disagree on something. It has become a “my way or on the highway” mentality across the broad spectrum.

It’s so sad, and I’ll go so far as to say it’s disheartening.

I can’t think of an example in our nation’s history that has been as sickening as that January day when a mob, many crowds, attacked the United States Capitol building. What the hell were these people thinking? I don’t see much difference between what almost happened that day and what happened on September 11th.

A crowd of angry protesters who didn’t get what they wanted and decided to take matters into their own hands.

Our “rights” do not give any of us the basis for breaking the law and causing physical harm to innocent people, police and Capitol staff inside the building.

I’ve never been mistaken for a constitutional lawyer, but I don’t believe our “rights” allow us to crowd together and block traffic on an interstate highway.

There is a right way to disagree and a wrong way to disagree and far too often these days what we see is the wrong way.

I hope we can find a way to reverse this trend.

Doug Walker is the former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Rome News-Tribune and now works as a Public Information Officer at the City of Rome.