Happy Independence Day to my US readers! When I was a kid, we used to sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag” in school a lot. It must have been a favorite of the music teacher. It certainly was easy enough to sing. You know it, I’m sure: You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag / And forever in peace may you wave / You’re the emblem of the land I love / The home of the free and the brave. Do you hear the tune in your head now?
This song was written in 1906 for a Broadway musical called George Washington, Jr. The song was originally called “You’re a Grand Old Rag,” after a line spoken in the musical just before the song was song. But enough people objected to our flag being called a rag that the lyric was changed to flag, as we know it today.
Here’s a 1906 recording of the song, sung by Billy Murray, a very popular recording artist of the time.
During my 1970s kidhood, everywhere you went people flew the American flag on Independence Day. We’ve lost that tradition along the way. We should bring it back. If you have an American flag, do fly it today. If you don’t have one, buy one for next year!