WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Feb. 23, 1945, after four fierce days of
battle, five U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raised an American flag
atop Mount Suribachi on the vital Pacific island of Iwo Jima. The picture of
those six Americans raising that flag won photographer Joe Rosenthal a
Pulitzer Prize and became the most reproduced photograph in history.
A few months later, on Aug. 14, 1945, a torn and tattered flag
that had flown over Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was raised over 1600
Pennsylvania Ave., to mark the end of World War II.
On May 25, 1961, Jack Kennedy told a joint session of Congress
that before the decade ended, the United States should land a man on the
moon and return him "safely to the earth." On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong
placed an American flag on the lunar surface to remind the world that it was
American ingenuity, bravery, resourcefulness and skill that made it
possible. Over the years, American explorers have planted Old Glory at the
North Pole, the South Pole, Mount Everest and even in the Marianas Trench,
the deepest spot on earth, to celebrate their achievements and mark their
Last December, when I was aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt
(CVN-71) in the Arabian Sea for FOX News, Capt. Richard O'Hanlon proudly
displayed what he called "a national treasure" -- the "Ground Zero Flag" --
which flew over the World Trade Center when it was attacked on Sept. 11. The
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit later raised that same tattered banner over
their Advanced Operating Base near Kandahar, Afghanistan, 450 miles inside
Since the first war of the 21st century began, each of the 45
gun-metal gray caskets containing the bodies of Americans killed in action
or by accident have been draped with the Stars and Stripes as they arrived
in solemn ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. America's flag is
deemed by every U.S. soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and guardsman to be an
appropriate recognition of a fallen comrade's valor, honor, allegiance and
Ever since Francis Bellamy published the first version on Sept.
8, 1892, in "The Youth's Companion," America's children have been reciting
the "Pledge of Allegiance" to that same flag. "The Pledge," was ratified by
Congress in 1942 and, in 1954, at the instigation of President Dwight D.
Eisenhower, Congress added the words "under God." When he signed the
legislation, the man who led the D-Day invasion of Normandy wrote that the
two additional words would reaffirm religious faith in America and
"strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most
powerful resource. ..." He added, "millions of our schoolchildren will daily
proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the
dedication of our nation and people to the Almighty." The man who guided
allied forces against Hitler's Third Reich was wrong.
Eisenhower never anticipated a time such as this -- when faith
and fealty are mocked and denigrated. Forget the 3,056 dead on 9-11. Ignore
the tens of thousands of young Americans, wearing American flags on their
sleeves while serving in harm's way. This is a new, more "enlightened" era.
Today, famous, wealthy Hollywood figures like Robert Altman
declare the American flag "a joke." The American Library Association refuses
to help the FBI track down terrorists. On the eve of the 226th anniversary
of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Canadian-born news anchor
Peter Jennings determines that country music star Toby Keith's unabashedly
patriotic hit new single, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," has
inappropriate "lyric content" for ABC's Fourth of July special.
Country music legend Charlie Daniels was told by PBS that his
new song, "The Last Fallen Hero," an ode to those who died on 9-11 and in
Afghanistan, couldn't be performed on the taxpayer subsidized network's
"Capitol Fourth" show. And now we have the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of
Appeals in San Francisco ruling that because of those two words -- "under
God" -- it is unconstitutional to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public
The rich, famous media elites, educational intelligentsia and
now the courts are perverting patriotism. And as is so often the case, they
are out of touch with most Americans.
On my radio show, Charlie Daniels said the court's decision was
enough to make him "bite through ten-penny nails." Toby Keith told my
audience "those judges are just plain wrong," and so are those who banned
"the song I wrote for my soldier-father." As proof, he cited the reaction
his music inspired "at the Naval Academy and from the soldiers, sailors,
airmen and Marines I've played for at the Pentagon and overseas."
Both performers have taken time from profitable tours to
entertain our Armed Forces with the USO. That's more than can be said for
the network bigwigs who banned their Fourth of July performances -- or
Robert Altman, or anyone from American Library Association, or any of the
judges from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Sadly, all of this was forecast by another television
entertainer more than three decades ago. On Jan. 14, 1969, Red Skelton, in
words that would never make it on ABC or PBS today, closed a tribute to Mr.
Laswell, his public school teacher who taught him the meaning of the Pledge
of Allegiance, with the following: "Since I was a small boy, two states have
been added to our country and two words have been added to the Pledge of
Allegiance -- 'under God.' Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said, 'That is a
prayer,' and that would be banned from schools, too?"
Yes, that would be a pity. Happy 226th Independence Day.