"Why fly the flag?" the young man asked.
"Long ago, when it was young . . . well, it was different then:
it was novel . . . the thing to do. But now the flag is
old . . . and the custom long outmoded."
The old man smiled. "Yes," he said, "the flag is old now . . . but then it always has been old. Remember? It was 'Old Glory' 'way back there on Cowpens field, where Howard's men endowed it with that name of love . . . And it was old . . . and tattered too . . . the day it flew o'er Brooklyn's stubborn stand by Smallwood's bold command. It was older still, of course, at fort McHenry when, waving in the morning breeze, it inspired a hymn of noble destiny. Yes, son, that banner of beauty was even old when its stars and stripes were stitched with loving care by Betsy Ross . . . As old as man's hatred of tyranny, his yearning for freedom . . . and his love of liberty won. Its origins indeed go back to civilization's very dawn. But, in its ageless beauty, it still is young . . . Young enough to quicken the beat of the soldier's heart at its morning rising . . . and moisten his eyes with sentiment at its vesper-time descent . . . And to symbolize the sailor's love for the ship on which he sails. It is so beautiful in its lasting youth that men still would die to keep it from the dust. Yes, the flag is young enough to bear new stars and mark the new additions to the family of the states . . . And, at least to these old eyes, its youth takes on new bloom as new nations emerge in pattern after that for which it proudly stands.
Why fly the flag? Well, perhaps the answer's there. You need not fly the flag . . . for there is none to say you must. The choice is freely yours. That's what 'Old Glory' means!"
From its dusty box . . . the youth unfurled the flag and placed it in its holder on the porch. He looked through misty eyes and said: "I think I never saw the flag before."
"WHAT OLD GLORY MEANS" was written by Al Quinn and was prepared as a special Holiday Feature of WBAL Radio 1090, Baltimore.
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