Flag, Country and Love

Saturday, June 13, AD 2015


Something for the weekend.  Columbia the Gem of the Ocean seems appropriate for a Flag Day weekend.  Written in 1843, by Thomas a Becket, yeah, the name is correct, Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean was probably the most popular patriotic ballad of the Nineteenth Century:

O Columbia! the gem of the ocean,
The home of the brave and the free,
The shrine of each patriot’s devotion,
A world offers homage to thee;
Thy mandates make heroes assemble,
When Liberty’s form stands in view;
Thy banners make tyranny tremble,
When borne by the red, white, and blue,
When borne by the red, white, and blue,
When borne by the red, white, and blue,
Thy banners make tyranny tremble,
When borne by the red, white and blue.

When war wing’d its wide desolation,
And threaten’d the land to deform,
The ark then of freedom’s foundation,
Columbia rode safe thro’ the storm;
With her garlands of vict’ry around her,
When so proudly she bore her brave crew;
With her flag proudly floating before her,
The boast of the red, white and blue,
The boast of the red, white and blue,
The boast of the red, white, and blue,
With her flag proudly floating before her,
The boast of the red, white and blue.

The star spangled banner bring hither,
O’er Columbia’s true sons let it wave;
May the wreaths they have won never wither,
Nor its stars cease to shine on the brave.
May thy service united ne’er sever,
But hold to the colors so true;
The army and navy forever,
Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!
Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!
The army and navy forever,
Three cheers for the red, white, and blue

Here is a rendition by Bing Crosby of Edward Everett Hale’ s story The Man Without a Country.  Published in the midst of the Civil War in December 1863, I have always regarded it as a profound meditation on Patriotism, Home and the meaning of America.  Hale, a grandnephew of Nathan Hale, hoped to bolster support for the Union with this plea for love of country and patriotism.  Schoolchildren used to be taught it, and when I first read it as a young boy it brought tears to my eyes.

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2 Responses to Flag, Country and Love

  • In first grade in 1956, the nuns taught us that grand, old song.

    Tomorrow is Flag Day.

    Old Glory is the symbol of America. It represents many things: Mom, apple pie, Babe Ruth, Freedom, and Sacrifice. Many young American men lost their lives in in far away lands where the flag and their buddies were all they had.

    I am afflicted with the “warm and fuzzy” whenever I see her.

    Any man or woman that doesn’t love the flag is not worthy of respect.

  • the sheet music in your excellent post gave credit for the song to a Mr Shaw. – so i looked a little further ….. and found this………………….”Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” received an American copyright in 1843 and is credited to the name of David T. Shaw. Yet to understand the true origins of Shaw’s song one must follow two threads. One thread leads to Thomas a’Beckett who claimed to have rewritten Shaw’s lyrics before the song was copyrighted. The other thread leads to Stephen Joseph Meany who wrote the poem “Britannia, the Pride of the Ocean,” from which, in turn, a’Beckett may have taken his lyrics.

Hail Columbia and The Man Without a Country

Saturday, June 15, AD 2013

Something for the weekend.  Yesterday being Flag Day I thought our first, unofficial, national anthem would be appropriate:  Hail Columbia.  Composed in 1789 by Philip Phile for Washington’s first inaugural, and originally entitled The President’s March, lyrics were supplied by Joseph Hopkinson in 1798.  Hail Columbia functioned as the unofficial national anthem of the United States up until the 1890s.   From 1947 here is Bing Crosby narrating a radio dramatization of Edward Everett Hale’s, a great nephew of Nathan Hale, classic story of love of country, The Man Without a Country:

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4 Responses to Hail Columbia and The Man Without a Country

  • For a moment, I thought you were referring to Obama 😉

  • By George, that’s a splendid sacred song! While familiar with the title I don’t remember ever having heard the tune or the words. I have bookmarked it for the future. Thank you.

  • P.S.: I read “Man Without a Country” in grade school in the mid-’50s, crying (I’m female) at the conclusion. Even today, as I contemplate the excesses of our nation, the waywardness of its people, and the tyranny of the government, I could not bring myself to say “Damn the United States! I wish that I may never see it again!” Only now I weep for all of us.

  • While in highschool our entire school studentbody presented themselves every morning before our flag pole for the raising of the flag, present arms, pledge of alligence, Hail Columbia first and last stanzas and the National Anthum. every day !!!!! And yes all our male highschool students were issued their own US cal 30 / model 1903/A3 Springfield rifle.

Philip Nolan and Flag Day

Tuesday, June 14, AD 2011

Today is Flag Day.  Edward Everett Hale, in his short story A Man Without A Country, reminds us that patriotism is a very powerful form of love.  Hale, a great nephew of Nathan Hale who died on a British scaffold and uttered the deathless  “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.”, wrote the story in the midst of the Civil War in 1863 to help inspire patriotism.

The story is a simple one.  Philip Nolan was a young artillery lieutenant in the United States Army.  He became involved in the  vague scheme of Aaron Burr to detach some territory from the  United States and form an independent nation.  All the big fish escape conviction, but Lieutenant Nolan does not.  At his courtmartial the following takes place:

One and another of the colonels and majors were tried, and, to fill out the list, little Nolan, against whom, Heaven knows, there was evidence enough,–that he was sick of the service, had been willing to be false to it, and would have obeyed any order to march any-whither with any one who would follow him had the order been signed, “By command of His Exc.A. Burr.” The courts dragged on. The big flies escaped,–rightly for all I know. Nolan was proved guilty enough, as I say; yet you and I would never have heard of him, reader, but that, when the president of the court asked him at the close whether he wished to say anything to show that he had always been faithful to the United States, he cried out, in a fit of frenzy,–

“Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”

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4 Responses to Philip Nolan and Flag Day

  • A very haunting work of fiction indeed. Allegedly, the character of Philip Nolan was inspired by a real-life figure, Cong. Clement L. Vallandingham of Ohio, a notorious Copperhead who was arrested for sedition by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside at one point and exiled to Canada for a time. Supposedly, Vallandingham was overheard saying “Hang the U.S.; I hope the day comes when I never hear the name.”

  • Thanks. This has long been one of my favorite stories — one I can’t read without tears coming to my eyes at the end, softy that I am.

  • Darwin the TV movie from 1973 is just as good. Cliff Robertson was magnificent as Nolan.

    Elaine that is the first I’ve heard of Vallandigham inspiring the character of Nolan. Ugh! To say the least, Copperhead Clement has never been high on my list of figures from the Civil War!

  • Sorry for the man who sees Old Glory and does not feel love and pride.

    If I think about Philip Nolan I become angry. Nolan is nothing but an ancestor for liberal democrats. Only thing: progressives don’t repent.

    America is the worst country in the world except for all the others.