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
“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.
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.
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…
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