Ragged Old Flags
In answer to your observations on the poor condition of some Stars and Stripes being flown in the US today. Both being ex-military people we naturally take exception to things not being squared away correctly and we would wish to see everything shipshape and Bristol fashion. In these uncertain times of war on terrorism, I always struck by my own impression, of just how patriotic America is and how proud she is of her flag, which seems to be flown in profusion nationwide. I am sure this is the same view being perceived by the outside world too, whether they are your friends or foes.
As an Englishman I hold no enmity whatsoever towards the United States; in fact my opinion of her is quite to the contrary. I can remember as a young child seeing the arrival of the American servicemen who came to assist us in a war that had already painfully been in progress for two years. They came on the rebound of their own experiences of hard times during the Great Depression, but now with a new confidence, vigour and a can-do mentality that endeared them to the natives of an isolated island still standing alone against Hitler. People liked their more casual friendly informal approach. They did not defer, which was the first thing the British noticed about them. Their presence and positive attitude certainly contributed greatly to the welcome breakdown and eradication of the social status-quo of the British establishment of that time.
American largesse was another contributory factor. Wartime rations were small and peacetime luxuries were absent altogether. I recall looking with wonder through a child’s eyes at the contents of food parcels sent by an Aunt in the Bronx, New York. They seemed as if they had been shipped directly from the Spice Islands to my doorstep for they contained items not seen for a long time with new exotic delights included. Tinned ham and chicken, Spam, sweet corn, maple syrup, soup cubes, frankfurters, powdered eggs with Uncle Sam on the labels and coffee were but a few to mention. Americans also provided priceless durables for the adults: camera film, dry cell batteries, and famously if mysteriously, nylon stockings.
I think what I am trying to say here is this. I love America for its friendship. Instant friendship, they say, the dawn friendship, is the distinctive American gift to human kinship. I have made instant friendships in America and many have lasted. Some, too brief to last, remain with me still. As a Lime Juicer, an outsider if you will, I can still get a lump in my throat and the hair on my neck stand up when I hear Johnny Cash recite, “Ragged Old Flag”. Johnny is IMHO one of the best diplomats the US ever had. He sold American soil and history to the outside world in spades. His words in that recital are true today as when he wrote them all those years ago and here they are again in this video clip below. I wouldn’t worry too much about those ragged old flags, my friend, just as long as people are still flying them which is what really counts after all. God Bless America.