Flag, Country and Love

 

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.

We  humans are a perverse lot.  All too often we take treasures around us in this Vale of Tears for granted, and truly love them only after we have lost them.

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2 Comments

  1. How unhappy must a man be, not to love the land he was born in!

    • Indeed Fabio. It is like hating one’s parents.


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