Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Good ol' flag day, 2011

Kinda so-so day, too bad I have to be at work thinking of Flag Day while chained to the office computer (and waiting for claims to pick up... I'm on terminal hold!)

Meanwhile, I was visiting this patriotic site and enjoying the wonderful poetry about our unique flag;


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."

Written by Johnny Cash
Submitted by Beverly Hutchings, McMinnville, Tennessee. hutchings@blomand.net
Beverly adds this P.S. This is to my knowledge the only poem ever written by Johnny Cash that was not intended to be sung. He has performed this a number of times at the "Pops Goes the Fourth" concerts in Boston on the 4th of July. His book *Man In Black* reveals the inspiration behind it. Hope everyone else enjoys this as much as I do.

How sweet that Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, took the time to write that very nice poem.

We are a lucky country to be able to fly our own flag. In the UK, the average person is not entitled to fly the Union Jack, especially on their vessels. There is a class structure with accompanying virtues with each of the maritime flags.

The Union Jack can only be flown from the Queen's Royal Yacht, or where ever she may be at that moment.

Otherwise, the regular joe sail boater (or Yachtie) may fly this;

Red Ensign (better known as "Red Duster")

As a visiting Yacht, we had to fly the red ensign on the Starboard cross tree to show that we were a visiting yacht who had cleared in. I found it quite amusing to see American yachts flying the Union Jack in place of the official Red Duster. Trust me, the British were very anal about flag etiquette.

If they can't fly a cool flag, neither can you!

Next up on the etiquette pecking order was the Blue Ensign;

 This flag was authorized for ships or yachts in public service, especially the Defaced Blue Ensign" as seen here:

This ensign is authorized for the Little Ship's Club of London, for service in teaching navigation and boating skills to the Royal Naval Reserve before WW2. This flag may only be flown on  British Registered Yacht owned by a British Subject. I have been a member of the LSC since 1996, and the club would not even consider selling me one of these flags for fear that I might fly it on my American Registered Yacht.

As. If.

Turns out I have TWO of these beautiful Ensigns, one of which was a gift from a Former Commodore (I won't mention John's name- The Club will probably make me give the flag back!) Don't worry... I will never fly either defaced blue ensign on my American Yachts! They are hidden in plain sight at the Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge.

The Topkick flag of all flags available to the British Yachtie is the Naval Ensign;

One must be a serving Officer in the Royal Navy, past officer, or a member of a Royal Yacht Squadron who may fly that ensign.

Snobbery and class envy, for sure.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming the nice people in the UK. If I were there you can bet I would be aiming to fly the best flag I could, whether it be Blue or White.

In our country, I can fly a flag that has proudly flown on the smallest sailing dinghy's in International Olympic Competition, to victory, I might add.
  Photo shamelessly stolen from Zach Railey's sailing site. Go give him some money!

That same flag has flown from battered, defeated civilian and Naval vessels at Pearl Harbor and again in victory over Tokyo Bay.

Pretty stirring poster, would you agree?

People fought and died to allow me the right to fly this flag on my boat without a thought of my class, color or background.

When I lived in the UK, those years ago, more than a few of my British friends expressed an envy for being able to fly such a proud banner on my sailboat into foreign harbors.

My flag was seen as a returning friend by the Calais Chamber of Commerce in 1997, they still remembered seeing it flying proudly on June 6th, 1944. (Man, that was a heckuva friendly welcome in '97!)

NASA Photo from 1969:

So proudly, we hail, indeed! Here are a couple of action views of that grand flag, from  over the years;

Being passed on the Thames by the Grand Turk, star of "Hornblower" series

La Coruna, Spain

Off of North Africa zero dark thirty

In the Caribbean with Otto driving

Anse A L'Ane, Martinique

Have a great flag day!


Buck said...

The Union Jack etiquette of which you speak only applies to (ahem) boats, right? Coz the Brits are QUITE fond of flying the flag on national holidays and occasions like the recent nuptials. You see 'em EVERYwhere.

OTOH, those same Brits are quite loose about using their flag as clothing, bunting, and other sorts of decorative stuff, while we have a STRICT code against that practice.

Nice pics of YOUR flag flying!

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Buck; Correct. The yachtie's were very picky about the rules, I had to be around them.

Thanks for stopping by!