The Meaning Behind The Lyrics Of ‘Ragged Old Flag’ By Johnny Cash

The Meaning Behind The Lyrics Of ‘Ragged Old Flag’ By Johnny Cash | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Johnny Cash Live at San Quentin, 1969 - Johnny Cash / Youtube

“I thank God for all the freedom we have in this country, I cherish them and treasure them – even the right to burn the flag. We also got the right to bear arms, and if you burn my flag, I’ll shoot you.” – Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash knew how to pay tribute to his motherland and if there’s someone who would threaten to disrupt its peace, he would, in his way, do something about it. Back in 1974, as then-president Richard Nixon departed the White House over the Watergate Scandal, Cash didn’t miss the opportunity to pay homage to the country and his beloved American flag through his song, “Ragged Old Flag.” And although 2 years earlier, Cash had pledged his support to Nixon, the song went on to prove which side he’s leaning more towards.

“Ragged Old Flag” details a man in a town square, as he recalled the moments that the place and the flag have endured over time.

“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”

It became a staple to any of Cash’s concerts, and the audience would often sing along to this anthemic, country tune of giving faith to the country and paying respects. Its relevance is still far from being erased, since it’s often used in the celebration of Veteran’s Day, on the 4th of July.

 

Lyrics:

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

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