Honored Freemason, patriot and philanthropist. Il. Bro. Richard Bernard “Red” Skelton 33o, Geourgas Medalist was born July 18, 1913 and died of pneumonia on September 17, 1997. In the 84 years of his life, he perfected his craft as a comedian, working in medicine shows, burlesque, showboats, circuses and vaudeville. He became an MGM movie star as well as a radio star. Red was among the first to recognize the potential of TV. He starred on Television in its early days from 1951 through 1971.
On several occasions he shared his interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Here are his words:
I remember this one teacher. To me, he was the greatest teacher, a real sage of my time.
He had such wisdom. We were all reciting the Pledge of Allegiance one day, and he walked over.
Mr. Lasswell was his name. He said, "I've been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester, and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?" I: me, an individual, a committee of one.
PLEDGE: dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.
ALLEGIANCE: my love and my devotion.
TO THE FLAG: our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there is respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody's job.
UNITED: that means that we have all come together.
STATES: individual communities that have united into 48 great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose, all divided with imaginary boundaries yet united to a common purpose, and that's love for country.
AND TO THE REPUBLIC: a state in which sovereign power is vested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
FOR WHICH IT STANDS
ONE NATION: meaning, so blessed by God.
INDIVISIBLE: incapable of being divided.
WITH LIBERTY: which is freedom, the right of power to live one's own life without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
AND JUSTICE: the principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.
FOR ALL: which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.
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 eliminated from schools, too?”
This patriot and Brother was inspired to become a Mason, by a Mason’s act of kindness. When he was a young boy selling newspapers, a gentleman paid for one with $5. Red asked why he was so generous and learned it was because he was a Mason. Red vowed to become a Mason as a result.
Red was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Vincennes Lodge No. 1 on September 20, 1939. He joined the Scottish and York Rites as well as the Shrine. He was coroneted an Inspector General Honorary Thirty-third Degree by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite on September 24, 1969. . Red was awarded its highest honor, the Gourgas Medal on July 14,.1995. This came as a recognition of his activities as a Freemason, philanthropist and patriot.
Red was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1989. He became an accomplished painter. He is primarily known for his paintings of clowns.
Brother Skelton has raised countless sums of money for the Shrine Hospitals and has been an inspiration for the members of the International Shrine Clown Association.