A Poem for Independence Day 2015

"If virtue & knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslav'd. This will be their great security." Samuel Adams

In honor of Independence Day 2015, here is a classic poem about the nickname of the American flag. Use it as copywork or just enjoy it! I’ve also included a stirring rendition of America the Beautiful and few pithy quotes. I wish you a happy, knowledgeable, and virtuous Fourth of July.

The Name of Old Glory

by James Whitcomb Riley

Old Glory! say, who,
By the ships and the crew,
And the long, blended ranks of the gray and the blue,
Who gave you, Old Glory, the name that you bear
With such pride everywhere
As you cast yourself free to the rapturous air
And leap out full-length, as we’re wanting you to?
Who gave you that name, with the ring of the same,
And the honor and fame so becoming to you?
Your stripes stroked in ripples of white and of red,
With your stars at their glittering best overhead
By day or by night
Their delightfulest light
Laughing down from their little square heaven of blue!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory? – say, who
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old banner lifted, and faltering then
In vague lisps and whispers fell silent again.

II

Old Glory,–speak out!–we are asking about
How you happened to “favor” a name, so to say,
That sounds so familiar and careless and gay
As we cheer it and shout in our wild breezy way
We-the crowd, every man of us, calling you that
We-Tom, Dick, and Harry-each swinging his hat
And hurrahing “Old Glory!” like you were our kin,
When-Lord!-we all know we’re as common as sin!
And yet it just seems like you humor us all
And waft us your thanks, as we hail you and fall
Into line, with you over us, waving us on
Where our glorified, sanctified betters have gone,
And this is the reason we’re wanting to know
(And we’re wanting it so!
Where our own fathers went we are willing to go.)
Who gave you the name of Old Glory O-ho!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old flag unfurled with a billowy thrill
For an instant, then wistfully sighed and was still.

III

Old Glory: the story we’re wanting to hear
Is what the plain facts of your christening were,
For your name–just to hear it.
Repeat it, and cheer it, ‘s a tang to the spirit
As salty as a tear;
And seeing you fly, and the boys marching by,
There’s a shout in the throat and a blur in the eye
And an aching to live for you always-or die,
If, dying, we still keep you waving on high.
And so, by our love
For you, floating above,
And the sears of all wars and the sorrows thereof,
Who gave you the name of Old Glory, and why
Are we thrilled at the name of Old Glory?
Then the old banner leaped, like a sail in the blast,
And fluttered an audible answer at last.

IV

And it spake, with a shake of the voice, and it said:
By the driven snow-white and the living blood-red
Of my bars, and their heaven of stars overhead
By the symbol conjoined of them all, skyward cast,
As I float from the steeple, or flap at the mast,
Or droop o’er the sod where the long grasses nod,
My name is as old as the glory of God.
…So I came by the name of Old Glory.

America the Beautiful

I’ve seen quite a bit of our beautiful country this summer, so this song seemed especially appropriate.

“A nation which expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization,
expects that which never was and never will be.”

Thomas Jefferson

On my walk this morning, I came across these military vehicles lined up after participating in a Fourth of July parade. The sight reminded me that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” (attributed to both Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry), and I’m grateful to those who stand on the front lines of vigilance.

Antique military vehicles lined up for the Fourth of July parade.

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences
attending too much liberty than to those
attending too small a degree of it.”
Thomas Jefferson

“People have only as much liberty
as they have the intelligence to want
and the courage to take.”
Emma Goldman

Those who would give up essential liberty
to purchase a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin

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