A protest raged on a courthouse lawn,
round a makeshift stage they charged on.
Fifteen hundred or more they say,
had come to burn the Flag that day.
A boy held up the folded Flag,
cursed it and called it a dirty rag.
A man pushed through the angry crowd,
with an old gun shouldered proud.
His uniform jacket was old and tight,
he had polished each button, shiny and bright.
He crossed the stage with military grace,
until he and the boy stood face to face.
Then the old man broke the silence.
“Freedom of speech, is worth dying for,
Good men are gone, they live no more.
All so you can stand on this courthouse lawn,
and ramble on from dusk to dawn.
But before the Flag gets burned today,
this old veteran is going to have his say.
My father died on a foreign shore,
in a war they said would end all wars.
Tommy and I weren’t even full grown,
before we fought in a war of our own.
Tommy died on Iwo Jima’s beach,
in the shadow of a hill he couldn’t reach.
Where five good men raised this Flag so high,
that the whole world could see it fly.
I got this bum leg that I still drag,
fighting for this same old Flag.
There’s but one shot in this old gun,
so now it’s time to decide which one.
Which one of you will follow our lead,
to stand and die for what YOU believe?”
The boy who had called it a dirty rag,
handed the veteran the folded Flag.
The crowd got quiet as they walked away,
to talk about what they heard that day.
So the battle for the Flag this day was won,
by a loyal veteran with a single gun.
Who for one last time, had to show to some,
That these colors will never, never run.
It is the veteran, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the veteran, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the veteran, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the veteran, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the veteran, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the veteran, not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the veteran, who salutes the Flag,
who serves under the Flag,
whose coffin is draped by the Flag.
I wish I knew who wrote this so I could shake his hand.