Mrs. S. A. Collins



Our Own Red, White and Blue

by Mrs. S. A. Collins

Written for and read at a celebration of the Fourth of July, 1895, in the grove at Russell's Corners in Fairfield , Sauk County . The flag which honored the occasion was-one made by the ladies of that community in the year 1862.

What means the glorious fourth to us

      Who stand with upturned eyes,

And watch the banner as it floats

      Against the July skies?

Why does it fill our hearts with pride:

      Those colors ever new.

Because they gave us freedom here:

      Our own red, white and blue.

There waves the flag which many years,

      Has been her country's pride.

'Twas made by loving, loyal hands

      In this rural country-side.

Although the hands which helped to form

      This glorious flag of ours,

Are many of them laid to rest

      Beneath the frosts and flowers,

And kindly eyes which used to greet us

      Always with a smile,

Are closed in slumber, long and deep,

      Their forms are fresh, meanwhile,

in memory. Always dear to us

      Though passed away from view,

Yet they have loved and always cheered

      Our own red, white and blue.

This country, when that flag was made,

      Was up in arms you know:

There were many boys in blue,

      And more who had to go

To fight, and thus defend our flag,

      Which cost so many tears,

And caused so many broken hearts

      In those four carnal years.

In the streets of Philadelphia ,

One fourth of July morn,

Many, many years ago,

      Our liberty was born.

I will not try to eulogize

A thing so great and grand,

But simply say it lives supreme,

      The beacon of this land.

When the boy stood in the belfry,

      Listening for the signal shout,

So that he might tell his grandpa

      When to ring the tidings out.

And when whole-souled he called so loudly.

      With his boyish voice so free,

Saying, "Grandpa, they are ready,

      Bing! Oh, ring for liberty!"

When through the streets of Frederick , marching,

      Went the troops with heavy tread,

And from the window Barbara Fritchie

      Thrust her gray and loyal head,

Calling loudly as she fluttered

      Our honored banner in the air,

"Shoot if you must this old gray head,

      But save the flag that's floating there."

And as their leader, Stonewall pondered

      Just a moment, then passed on,

Harming neither head nor banner.

      Such scenes as these to look upon!

The flag at times seems most divine,

      As it brings these things to mind.

If it could speak, the tales 'twould tell,

      Of every sort and kind.

The aged grandsire sights us back,

      To days so long gone by:

And tells in such a thoughtful way,

      Of Freedom's first July.

How his father used to tell him,

      Of Liberty 's great bell,

As he heard the echo from afar.

      With joy which none can tell.

And then he tells us of the war,

      In revolution times,

When Britain tried to rule the world,

      In this and other climes.

And taking up the happenings,

      As experienced in his day,

'Tis plainer far than history;

      "It seems so real," we say.

And when he tells how freedom stood

      Against old slavery's time,

And speaks of Lincoln brave and good

      Those aged eyes will shine.

When he tells of boys who left

      His home and loving care,

To help support our freedom,

      He checks the falling tear.

His aged limbs, now almost done

      With battling here below,

Seem then to almost gain new life,

      As he speaks of long ago.

The flag today all o'er our land,

      Is floating to the breeze;

Its colors bright reflect our rights,

      Beneath these old oak trees.

If it waves high in the rigging,

      Of our naval fleet at sea.

0r aloft above the cities,

Over sights so grand to see,

If o'er the public schools today,

      It floats so brave and free,

If in some church-yard, bending low

      Over some comrade's grave?

Marking there the resting place,

      Of one who died that flag to save.

01' does it serve a winding sheet,

      For one who loved it well;

It matters not, it means the same,

      Its meaning all can tell.