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Ol’ Robbo has always loved flags.  And he has always thought that the United States flag is one of the very handsomest and most dignified in the world.  (I use the Betsy Ross version here because it was the adoption of this one by Congress on June 14, 1777 that laid the basis for Flag Day.)  I suppose there’s a certain amount of patriotic bias behind my opinion, but so what?

UPDATE:  And while I think on it, how about a little John Greenleaf Whittier to celebrate the day?  (It’ll make the Mothe cringe, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this poem.)

Barbara Frietchie

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,

Fair as the garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall;

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet,

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.

‘Halt!’ – the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
‘Fire!’ – out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

‘Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,’ she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word;

‘Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on! he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids nor more.

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewalls’ bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round they symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for stepping away from the decanter yet again.  This week featured a combination of end-of-school events and ongoing illness that has kept ol’ Robbo’s fingers away from the keyboard. (Not that his braims are bursting with any particularly scintillating thoughts at the moment.)

Tuesday afternoon saw the end of the year program cum graduation ceremony at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.   It was the usual combination of kiddy plays and kiddy songs, with teachers bustling about in between trying to get the sound system to work properly and parents continually looping up to the front to snap pictures of their lil’ darlins, and teh collective attention of the audience gradually withering away as the afternoon wore on.  Of the younger Misses Port Swiller, I will note this:  The upper elementary put on the performance of (a highly edited) Twelfth Night that they’d got up this spring and the youngest gel positively stole the show with her rendition of Feste the Clown.   Ham ain’t in it.  She literally had the preschoolers, who were seated down front, rolling on the floor.  As for the middle gel, she caught me completely on the hop by singing a delightful little aria that she claims was originally written by Mozart for Le Nozze di Figaro but cut.  I’d certainly never heard of it before.  (I’ll have to look into it further, but don’t recall the name at the moment.)  And even though she sang along with a CD, she completely dominated it.  As I glanced round, I noticed that awe-struck look on people’s faces that I’ve gotten used to seeing when she performs at RFEC.  (I know I’m her father and all, but yes, I’m that proud of her.)

Yesterday saw Robbo heading back to the doctor for further consultation about this damned bronchitis which continues to plague me.  I won’t whine here about that, but instead remark on something else.  As I sat in the waiting room, two older fellahs (I believe they were father and son) were seated across the way from me.  They were using an i-Whateveritis, to watch my beloved Nationals sweep the Blue Jays.  (Second sweep in a row.  Not too shabby! But we’ve got the Yanks to deal with this weekend.) As I eavesdropped on the play-by-play and their own complimentary remarks, it occurred to me how nice it was to see folks around here really starting to appreciate the team.   Somewhere or other, I read recently that attendance at Nats Park is way, way up, as is viewership on teevee.  And more and more I see guys like these following the games.  Of course, to an old campaigner who’s stuck with the Nats since ’05, I’m always going to have a certain amount of disdain for johnny-come-latelies, and I am still suspicious of how many of these summer soldiers, these sunshine patriots (as that old bastard Paine put it) might melt away if the team’s fortunes start to tank again, but still…Nats Nation is a pretty good place to be right now.

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