As we head into the 4th of July weekend, I feel compelled to consider our freedoms, our flag and how grateful I am to be a citizen of our great nation. No matter our troubles, no matter our challenges, I am an American. And I am grateful. I am grateful for those who have protected our freedoms. I am grateful for those who question our direction to make us think more deeply on it. I am grateful for our unique culture of courage and fortitude. I am grateful for the those who came before and hopeful for those who will come after. I am grateful that I still get tears in my eyes watching fireworks and hearing the Star Spangled Banner on the 4th of July. I am grateful for hot dogs on barbecues and fireworks in town squares. I am grateful for children’s faces silhouetted, dazzled by colorful celebratory explosions in the night sky. I am grateful for liberty and for the pursuit of happiness. I am grateful for religious freedom. I am grateful for red, white and blue snow cones. I am grateful that Ray Charles’ rendition of America the Beautiful moves me deeply. I am grateful that, while we are not a perfect nation, will never be a perfect nation, we strive for better in our country, even when we disagree on what that is. I am a grateful American.
Last summer we spent 4th of July in the town where this man made his home so I thought I’d share a work of his today.
RAGGED OLD FLAG
Written by Johnny Cash
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.”