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Jewish World Review Sept. 28, 2001 / 11 Tishrei, 5762

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom
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And our flag is still there -- That our flag was still there
through the gloom and despair
hanging on porches,
flapping in schoolyards,
painted on cheeks of young mothers
whose husbands are leaving to face
the rockets' red glare,
bombs bursting in air
and our flag is still there

Through weeks of despair
that flag was still there
When death came on silver wings
towers in ruins,
bodies in flames,
when up from the ashes
a dark smoke arose
and lingering there,
like a child unaware,
waiting till mother or
father came home
but they
are never coming home
Hearts everywhere,
offered a prayer,
and in the midst of that gray rubble square
a flag was still there

Did you even know
two weeks ago
where your stars were buried?
Where your stripes were stowed?
Behind boxes and crates?
Behind mowers and rakes?
So taken for granted
this symbol of freedom, tucked
behind charcoal and snow boots
and rusty old bicycles,
when the call came
to show that we care
we all did the same
our flags were right there

It has not always been
the most respected cloth
Burned in protest
mocked and ignored
But when, as a nation
the time comes to mourn
at half-staff it flies
from morning till dawn
And when we are stirred
as a people of might
it soars high on ships
It says "we are right
in this fight,
we are right"
It pulls out of port
It augurs "beware"
The flag that's still there

Those broad stripes and bright stars
are now hanging in bars
and diners and Kmarts
and windows of cars
We've even heard stories
of seeing Old Glory
tattooed on arms,
or stitched through the night
then purchased on sight
When this war began
the first thing we ran
out of, in fact, the only thing
that this great nation ran short of
was flags.
Flags everywhere
And the flag is still there

Oceans of banners now,
armies of flags,
sea to shining sea's worth of flags
We wave them at baseball games,
during the "stretch,"
we wave them at cameras, at airports,
at friends
Never before have we seen such array
the country bedecked
in a single display
It's like one shirt, one blouse,
one pair of shoes
red, white and blues
It's all that you wear
the flag, that's still there

I never did feel
the strength of those words
that Mr. Key wrote
often sung but not heard
"Gave proof through the night"
that she was still there
what a wonderful, comforting
image we share
We cherish it now,
it shows that we care
that our hearts will repair
And through this despair
this much we can swear
we bend but don't break
we are united, these states,
Look outside -
a new dawn's early light
And our flag is still there.

Comment on JWR contributor Mitch Albom's column by clicking here. You may purchase his runaway bestseller, Tuesdays with Morrie, by clicking here.


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© 2001 DFP