Johnny Cash's Performance Of Ragged Old Flag (1985)

Johnny Cash's legend as one of the Kings of Country Music has lived on long after his passing. His deep baritone with its hint of twang is easily recognizable even to those who aren't big country music fans. Yet one of his most memorable pieces isn't sung, but spoken. Cash wrote a poem called "Ragged Old Flag," first released on an album of the same name. Instead of setting it to music, Cash chose to recite the poem. This change of pace makes it more memorable still.

Like many country songs, the poem tells a story. A visitor to a small old town encounters an old man sitting on a bench. The younger man comments on how tired the town looks, especially the ragged old flag on the old flagpole in front of the courthouse.

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The old man invites the younger man to sit down, and he recounts the history of the flag through a listing of the battles it had figuratively seen. Beginning with the Revolutionary War, Cash's poem recounts the major wars we have fought. Each time, the flag made it through, even though it may have taken some damage.

As Cash smoothly recites the poem, the tale continues, reflecting on the hard times the flag has faced within its own country, as actions like flag burning signal unrest and discontent within our boundaries.

But the poem doesn't end on a negative note. The old man points out how the flag has been through so much but still has the strength to go through so much more and survive. He ends up boasting about 'our ragged old flag.'

The video was made in 1985, when Cash recited the poem at the Billy Graham crusade. Cash used his incredible talent for meaningful lyrics to stir a sense of patriotism.

The thorough review of major events in our history combined with the nostalgia of the thought of a ragged flag in a small rural town reminds us how strong our country really is.

Cash couldn't have predicted events like the ones happening today that challenge our country. But even if he had, his message would have been the same. The flag and our country would weather the battle and still have strength to spare.

Watch Johnny Cash's memorable performance and tell us how it makes you feel. Then make sure your friends get to hear this uplifting message.