John Wayne Recites and Explains the Pledge of Allegiance (1972)

Back in 1972, John Wayne record­ed a spo­ken word album called Amer­i­ca, Why I Love Her, described as “a series of heart­felt, patri­ot­ic speech­es over a bed of stir­ring music.” You can stream the entire album below (or over on Spo­ti­fy). Above, we’re fea­tur­ing the 8th track on the release, Wayne’s recita­tion and exe­ge­sis of the Pledge of Alle­giance. Some will find it corny, oth­ers rous­ing. Per­son­al­ly, I’m not a fan of syrupy nation­al­ism. But I’ll give Wayne’s inter­pre­ta­tion this–his take rec­og­nizes Amer­i­ca as a place of inclu­sive­ness and open­ness, giv­ing every­one equal access to its oppor­tu­ni­ties and insti­tu­tions. Com­pare it with the nation­al­ist rhetoric you hear today, and, you might find your­self long­ing for John Wayne’s sun­nier Amer­i­ca.

“I pledge alle­giance to the flag”

What do those words mean to you? To me they say, “Thank
you, Amer­i­ca, for your strength, your courage and your
freedom…which has been a bea­con to the world for two
hun­dred years.”

“Of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca”

Whose bright stars are fifty states…each bear­ing its
own stamp of indi­vid­u­al­i­ty. People…two hun­dred
mil­lion strong…people who have come to her from all
cor­ners of the earth.

“And to the repub­lic for which it stands”

A land of laws…with an inge­nious sys­tem of checks and
bal­ances that allows no man to become a tyrant…and
lets no group prevail…if their pow­er is not tem­pered
with a real con­cern for the governed…A land where the
right of dis­sent and of free speech is jeal­ous­ly
guarded…where the bal­lot box is the sword…and the
peo­ple its wield­er.

“One nation under God”

A land where free­dom of wor­ship is a cor­ner­stone of her
being…A land graced with tem­ples and church­es,
syn­a­gogues and altars that rise in pro­fu­sion to embrace
all the reli­gions of the world.


A land forged by the hot steel of raw courage…and
formed forever…by the awful cru­cible of civ­il war.

“With lib­er­ty”

Where man in pur­suit of an hon­est life will not be
denied his chance…where her cit­i­zens move freely
with­in her vast bor­ders with­out hin­drance or fear…A
land brim­ming with opportunity…where free­dom of
choice is the guide for all.

“And jus­tice”

The courts of our land are open to all. Its wheels of
jus­tice grind for all causes…all peo­ple. They look to
every avenue for justice…every con­cern of the
law…and they tem­per their rea­son­ing with mer­cy…

“For all!”

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