When Needed, Old Glory Is Always There

Written by Mitch Albom, and published in the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press, September 23, 2001. 

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.


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2 Responses to When Needed, Old Glory Is Always There

  1. Menagerie says:

    Long may she fly, our beautiful flag. May the generations to come never look at her without seeing the sacrifice behind the stars and stripes.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. in says:

    May God continue to bless America. Amen.

    Liked by 3 people

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