My husband put our flag out this morning as he does every June 14th to celebrate Flag Day. Our neighbor across the street had already put his stars and stripes out and the retired military family next door to us didn't have to do so, as they fly the flag every day in front of their home.
As you drive around on your daily activities--grocery store, bank, work, ballgames--take note of the number of flags you see flying today. It seems there are fewer and fewer each year, and that makes me sad. I wonder if parents are teaching children about the history of our flag, the etiquette of using the flag. Are teachers doing so in the classroom? I hope so.
I found a poem written by Johnny Cash who normally writes song lyrics, but this one is definitely a poem. It has been used at patritotic events numberous times. When I read it, somehow I heard Johnny's distinctive voice reading it. I'm going to share it with you today. Maybe you'll share it with others.
RAGGED OLD FLAG
I walked through a county courthouse square,
On a park bench an old man was sitting there.
I said, "Your old courthouse is kinda run down."
He said, "Naw, it'll do for our little town."
I said, "Your flagpole has leaned a little bit,
And that's a Ragged Old Flag you got hanging on it.
He said, "Have a seat", and I sat down.
"Is this the first time you've been to our little town?"
I said, "I think it is." He said, "I don't like to brag,
But we're kinda proud of that Ragged Old Flag."
"You see, we got a little hole in that flag there
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key
Sat watching it writing _Oh Say Can You See_.
And it got a bad rip in New Orleans
With Packingham and Jackson tuggin' at its seams."
"And it almost fell at the Alamo
Beside the Texas flag, but she waved on through.
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on that Ragged Old Flag."
"On Flanders Field in World War I
She got a big hole from a Bertha gun.
She turned blood red in World War II
She hung limp and low by the time it was through.
She was in Korea and Vietnam.
She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam."
"She waved from our ships upon the briny foam,
And now they've about quit waving her back here at home.
In her own good land she's been abused --
She's been burned, dishonored, denied and refused."
"And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land.
And she's getting threadbare and wearing thin,
But she's in good shape for the shape she's in.
'Cause she's been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more."
"So we raise her up every morning,
Take her down every night.
We don't let her touch the ground
And we fold her up right.
On second thought I DO like to brag,
'Cause I'm mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag."
Submitted by Beverly Hutchings, McMinnville, Tennessee. firstname.lastname@example.org
Beverly adds this P.S. This is to my knowledge the only poem ever written by Johnny Cash that was not intended to be sung. He has performed this a number of times at the "Pops Goes the Fourth" concerts in Boston on the 4th of July. His book *Man In Black* reveals the inspiration behind it. Hope everyone else enjoys this as much as I do.