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LONG MAY SHE WAVE

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,

but . . .

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.

Detroit Free Press

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