At a residence in St. Croix County a couple weeks ago, the owner decided it was time to replace a tired old American flag that flies from a pole attached to the garage. The old flag had truly seen better days and a few more rain showers will work the fold lines out of the new one.
The home owner’s reference to his ratty old flag turned into ragged old flag. He recalled hearing a song with the same title, but from where? Sure enough, Ragged Old Flag was used in a video tribute leading up to Super Bowl LIV’s kick-off this past February. During its airing, Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Kyle Carpenter raised Old Glory to the top of a pole. The tribute ends with Corporal Carpenter saying a phrase typically used by presidents at the end of speeches.
On this Fourth of July, carve out some time for reflection – where this country has been, where it is today, and the continued challenges on the road going forward. And reflect upon this, E Pluribus Unum, Latin for Out of Many, One. The United States is a country comprised of many beliefs and backgrounds, it’s still a melting pot after all these years, and unified by fifty stars and thirteen stripes…. “And I believe she can take a whole lot more” as the line in Ragged Old Flag points out. Here’s from 1776 to 2020 and counting.
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 old 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 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 though
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 One
She got a big hole from a Bertha gun
She turned blood red in World War Two
She hung limp and low a time or two
She was in Korea and Vietnam
She went where she was sent by 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 here 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
We 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
Footnotes: Ragged Old Flag is the title song on an album with the same name released by country singer Johnny Cash in 1974; Corporal Carpenter medically retired from the U.S. Marines in 2013 as a result of significant injuries received in service to his country; he is the youngest living recipient of the Medal of Honor; watch the Super Bowl LIV tribute here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPbDZljUsrY