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Ashlar Home > Poems > Red Skelton > The Ragged Old Flag

The Ragged Old Flag

By Red Skelton

I walked through a county courthouse square.
On a park bench, an old man was sitting there.
I said, Your courthouse looks kind of run-down.
He said, Nah, it'll do for our little town.
I said, Your old flagpole's leaned a little bit,
And that's a ragged old flag you've 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 believe it is.

He said, I don't like to brag,
But we're kind of proud of that ragged old flag.
You see, we've got a little hole in that flag there
from when Washington took it across the Delaware.
And it got powder burns the night Francis Scott Key
sat watching it, writing, Oh Say Can You See.
And it got a bad rip down in New Orleans
with Packingham and Jackson tugging at its seams.
She almost fell at the Alamo,
Next to 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 were Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg,
and the south winds 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's hung limp and low a time or two.
She was in Korea and Viet Nam,
and she went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.
She waved from our ships on the briny foam,
but 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 lands.
She's looking 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 and bring 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.
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