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That Ragged Old Flag

Friday was Flag Day commemorating June 14, 1777 when the Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the Stars and Stripes as our national flag. The resolution read: “Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Throughout the years, while there have been countless stories, poems and songs written about Old Glory, my favorite and most memorable by far is “That Ragged Old Flag,” written and recorded by country music icon Johnny Cash.

The Man in Black tells the story of a traveler who stops in a small town and sitting down to rest on a bench at the county courthouse square gazes at the Stars and Stripes blowing in the breeze.vHe says to an old timer sitting on the next bench “That’s a ragged old flag you got hangin’.”

“Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town,” the old man asks. “I don’t like to brag, but we’re kind a 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 ‘Say can You See’.”

The old man continues with his story with the flag at the battle of New Orleans “and it almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,” and on to the battles of Chancellorsville and Shiloh Hill.

“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 a time or two. She was in Korea, Vietnam. She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.”

“So we raise her up every morning and we bring her down slow every night.” And the old man adds “On second thought, I do like to brag, ‘cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag.”

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