That Ragged Old Flag

Warning – many people won’t like what I have to say…

I hope everyone had a good weekend and that every person in America spent time thinking about and praying for the victims of 9/11. I’ll never forget that day. I was at work when the planes hit, and nobody was sure what was happening. When the Pentagon was hit, I knew things were bad, very bad. I went to my boss, whose husband worked at the Treasury Department, and as calmly as possible told her that she might want to call her husband and tell him to leave DC. She looked at me like I was crazy, but as I explained what was happening, her face paled, and her expression turned to horror. She told me to tell everyone to go home as she reached for the phone.

NYC Skyline with American Flag

The patriotism that arose from those ashes was astonishing. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it since 1776. The radio was flooded with new songs like Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning by Alan Jackson and Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue by Toby Key. Churches were packed, and songs such as Let There Be Peace on Earth and Amazing Grace spilled out into the streets. American flags and banners with the Stars and Stripes flew in every yard or from every house. Memorials cropped up in businesses, schools, and stores. New York, New York, Arlington, Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania were in everyone’s prayers. Every person was touched, in some way, by what happened. We were all one nation, under God, indivisible, standing for liberty and justice for all.

Fast forward twenty years. The American Flag has been replaced by flags of various colors, all signifying something different, all highlighting the divisions across our land. It’s offensive to wear clothing that depicts anything patriotic or political. Even Independence Day was mocked by people claiming to be Americans. Children are gunned down in schools and on streets. There is no sanctity of life at any age or in any condition. Many of the same people who are begging for guns to be made illegal so that our children don’t die are the ones sounding the rallying cry to save Roe v Wade; and the ones asking to dismantle Roe v Wade are cheering the death penalty.

We still label each other by color and religion and any other label someone comes up with. We no longer see each other as fellow human beings.

We all claim to want liberty and justice for all, but that really only extends to those who think alike. Anyone with contrary views is unworthy of anything this country has to offer, including life. Why can’t we live according to the lyrics of that beautiful hymn, Let There Be Peace On Earth, and walk with each other in perfect harmony? Or at least TRY to live in harmony!

But back to the flag.

On Saturday, I was listening to a playlist I put together for Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Patriot Day – September 11. One of the greatest songs ever written is on that playlist – Johnny Cash’s Ragged Old Flag. I was a little girl when my father first introduced me to this song. Even as a child, it made a tremendous impact on me. I still tear up every time I hear it, and I know my dad does, too.

This past weekend, as I listened to the lyrics–because you can’t just play it, you have to listen to it–I was struck by something for the first time.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

There’s a line in the song that says, There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg.
And the south wind blew hard on that ragged old flag.

And the south wind blew hard on that ragged old flag.

And that south wind flew another flag…

A flag I’ve kind of defended throughout my life. A flag that I always thought of as a sign of our history, a symbol of the past, a link to a time we should never forget and never repeat. It wasn’t that I agreed with all that the flag stood for. I just believed that we all need reminders of the past so that we can have a better future.

And I still think that, but…

It’s okay to have reminders. It’s okay to look in a history book or in a museum and learn about the meaning of something from the past. It’s okay to use it as a symbol to teach our children what was, is, and should be.

But think about that line.

There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg.
And the south wind blew hard on that ragged old flag.

That ragged old flag is the American Flag: the flag that flies over every American military base in the world; the flag that was hoisted in Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, and at Ground Zero; the flag that was worn on the chest of every fallen Vet in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf; the flag that represents our nation at the Olympics; the flag that united us after 9/11. That is the flag of our country. That is the flag that symbolizes us as Americans. To fly any other flag, especially the flag of a false nation that spat on the United States, turned its back on its brothers, and waged a bloody war against its own people, is an insult.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other,” (Matthew 6:24). Nor can one serve two countries or salute two flags. The American flag is the flag that represents and unites. That is the only flag that should be at the top of the pole or and the only flag that should fly alone, and it should never be paired with a flag that went against everything this nation stands for.

I’d like to close with lyrics from another patriotic song. This one is by the great George M. Cohen:

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.

May we salute the emblem of the United States and not any other flag. May we never forget those who gave their lives so that our flag could wave, and never forget those who died on that peaceful day that was shattered by the sound of plane engines and clouded with black smoke. May we honor them and the flag of their country.


Be sure to catch me next at:

September 18 – Book signing – Abbeyfest in Berwyn, Pennsylvania 11:00AM-9:30PM

October 16-17 – Book signing – Maryland Oyster Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 10:00AM-7:00PM Saturday; 11:00AM-6PM Sunday


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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy,  Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020). 

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