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This file includes Fourth of July and the Flag.
Also see Patriotism and Veterans Day.
Independence Day celebrates the day in 1776 when the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring our nations independence from Great Britain. However, most delegates actually signed the Declaration in August. In 1938, Congress declared Independence Day a national federal holiday.
See Independence Day and other poems by Del 'Abe' Jones.
I've got a rocket
In my pocket;
I cannot stop to play.
Away it goes!
I've burned my toes
It's Independence Day.
These verses are from the Perpetual Sentiments Album but are great for 4th of July pages. The second one is for people who have a family member with a July birthday. Stacy Kocur wrote it for me because my daughter wanted to mention her children in her Perpetual Album. It is a good example of how to personalize a poem to fit a situation.
July brings Independence Day
July's parades and fireworks
God bless America.
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the ocean, white with foam.
God bless America! My home, sweet home,
God bless America! My home, sweet home.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
O beautiful for heroes proved
My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!
(used with permission of the author, Michael Marks)
(While Independence Day is a celebration of the patriotism and sacrifice that first gave birth to the United States of America in 1776 it remains a day for all Americans to remember the ongoing sacrifices of our Armed Forces personnel in their defense of our nation.)
In crimson hue the missiles flew and cracked the sky asunder,
while mortars tolled, explosions rolled and shook the ground like thunder.
Yet in the midst of rockets roar a figure stood alone,
a grizzled sergeant gazing on the field with eyes of stone.
He'd heard before the mortars roar in jungles far away,
and left his blood there in the mud where fallen comrades lay.
And when it seemed the gates of hell itself had opened wide,
when every fiber of his being had screamed to run and hide,
he held his ground and duty bound to country and to Corps
he faced the final sacrifice as many had before.
A sudden movement in the night broke through his reverie,
to drive away old memories he'd just as soon not see.
On trembling legs a breathless figure dashed across the street
collapsing on the ground before the grizzled sergeant's feet.
"Oh Grandpa did you see 'em?" asked the boy with shining eyes,
"the fireworks are really cool, they almost fill the skies!"
The sergeant smiled and hugged the boy, a moment most sublime.
"You bet I did" the sergeant said, "I've seen them many times."
Then with a kiss on Grandpa's cheek he jumped and dashed away.
Returning to the magic that was Independence Day.
And with a gentle sigh the sergeant, flanked on either side
by sons and daughters, hugged his wife, now thirty years his bride.
He raised his eyes to heaven where the flag now proudly flew,
majestic in her billowing of red and white and blue.
With hand upon his brow he stood once more in proud salute,
His love for God and Country ever strong and absolute.
And thinking back upon those nights so full of pain and fear,
when locked in mortal combat he was sure his end was near;
He said a prayer of thanks that God had seen to pull them through
And given him a life that those who'd fallen never knew.
With humble heart he took his place with patriots of lore,
And shared an oath with every soldier that had gone before.
Should e'er the call arise to stand for nation, God and friends . . .
He knew from deep within his heart he'd do it all again.
Flag Day commemorates the date in 1777 when the U.S. flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. It was designated a national holiday in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. In 1949 Congress passed an act establishing National Flag Day as a holiday. See the History of Flag Day.
The flag . . . the symbol of the hopes of man. This cloth of dreams for freedom, justice and opportunity. Its stars are like beacons guiding us through the shoals of adversity. It's red stripes like wounds of struggles. The good in it cannot be had for nothing . . . like any garden, it must be tended . . . like any loved one, it must be held. Hold this flag high and keep it's promise bright, for in it lies the best hope for all of us. (Nort Walker)
I love the flag.
It flies so high
It almost seems
To touch the sky.
Red, white and blue
Its colors are;
For every state
There is a star.
Red, white, and blue, the flag flies free,
In the winds of liberty.
Children in its shadow know
Their flag protects them as they grow.
At the end of the 19th century, millions of immigrants poured into a country beset with social unrest. Many people believed America needed some symbol to tie the nation's peoples together. The first widely used pledge of allegiance was written by Colonel Balch of New York. It was a simple pledge of fealty and devotion: "I give my heart and my hand to my country--one country, one language, one flag."
In 1892, Francis Bellamy, an ordained Baptist minister who had been booted out of his Boston church because of his fiery socialist sermons, composed a pledge that expressed loyalty not only to a nation but to an idea: "Liberty and justice for all." There is more information on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance on Alternet.
I pledge allegiance to the earth and to the flora, fauna and human life that it supports, one planet indivisible, with safe air, water and soil, economic justice, equal rights and peace for all.
I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench, an old man was sittin' there.
I said, "Your court house is kinda run down,
He said, "No, it will do for our little town".
I said "your old flag pole kinda leaned a little bit,
And that's a ragged old flag you got hanging on it".
He said "have a seat", so I sat down,
He said, "is this your first visit 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.
It got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it,
writing "Oh Say Can You See"
It got a rip in New Orleans, with Packingham and Jackson
tugging at its seams.
It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,
But she waved on though.
It got cut with a sword in Chancellorsville,
Got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on
"That Ragged Old Flag"
On Flanders Field in World War I,
She took a bad hit from a Bertha Gun,
She turned blood red in World War II
She hung limp and low by the time that one was through,
She was in Korea, Vietnam, She went where she was sent
by her Uncle Sam.
The Native Americans, The Black, Yellow and White
All shed red blood for the Stars and Stripes.
And here in her own good land,
She's been abused, burned, dishonored, denied and refused,
And the very government for which she stands
Has been scandalized throughout out the land.
And she's getting thread bare, and she's wearing kinda thin,
But she's in pretty good shape, for the shape she's in.
Cause she's been through the fire before
and she can take a whole lot more.
So we raise her up every morning
And we bring her down slow 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"
I'll wave to all of you, as you leave
when it's time for you to go.
As you sail from sea to shining sea
take the colors of your home.
Take me with you, wherever you go
keep me in your heart each night.
And if you forget what you're fighting for
remember me, in flight.
Take me out to the battleground,
and then tear me into shreds.
Wrap the bleeding wound with me,
and bind the aching head.
Plunge me into coldest water
to soothe the fevered brow.
Tie me across the shattered limb,
I'll support it now.
Let me dry the homesick tear,
and hold closed, the gaping chest,
for here, in the field, where hope is lost
I am at my best.
And then, burn what is left of me,
for warmth into the night.
So I may bring comfort, where there is need
and courage, for the fight.
My red is deeper, for the blood you've shed.
My white is purer, for your pain.
My blue will be bluer than the deepest sea
when you come home again.
Then I'll rise to the top of the flagpole,
where my colors are always flown,
and from there, when the war is over
I'll wave, to welcome you home.
Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears 'mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom's shield and hope.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.
Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.
Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.
Your Flag and My Flag
Wilbur D. Nesbit
Your flag and my flag,
Grand Ol' Flag
You're a grand ol' flag
Every heart beats true
Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
See the War Veteran's Poetry Archive for some Flag Day poems by Del 'Abe' Jones.