Writers’ Page


Just a Battered Old Flag

Dick Nelsen

When we were children one of the first songs we learned was the “Star Spangled Banner,” we were taught to put our right hand over our heart and look at the nation’s flag. Most of us memorized the words and made a valiant effort to sing it more or less on key. It is a difficult song for many of us, but if you remember the words we can tell a little story. Many people sing with a group, but do they really know the story behind our national anthem? The author of this song was from a poem by Francis Scott Key.

The situation took place during the war with England of 1812. A British admiral with a huge fleet of ships was anchored off the City of Baltimore where American troops held Fort McKinley. Francis Scott Key was a go-between to ensure a prisoner exchange. The rebel troops were locked in the hold of a British ship. Mr. Key was on the deck trying to consummate the exchange. Night was falling, and the admiral uttered a plan. “We are going to shell that fort until that flag comes down. When it goes down we are the winners and the fort and the city are ours. If that flag is there in the morning I will sail away with my fleet and the prisoners are free.”

The guns from the harbor kept firing targeting the spot where the flag was flying. All night the firing kept up. The sky was red from the intensity of the shelling. As Francis Scott Key watched from the deck the prisoners kept asking, “Is the flag still there?” The answer was yes and it was still there as the rockets continued to concentrate on that battered and torn flag. It was still there waving when the sun rose over the land of the free and the home of the brave. But how could it continue to wave; after all that pounding from the British Navy? After the ships sailed away the people went to see for themselves how it stayed up. What they found were the bodies of many patriots who gave their life to hold up that flag and not allow it to fall. Not let the nation fall.

Try something the next time you are asked to stand and sing our “Star Spangled Banner.” Visualize those people who loved this new nation so much they would not let the flag fall. God Bless America.

The Cold Fish

Margaret Daniels

As a child I would go out to the lake to fish. When one was caught, it would fight. Tired from trying to get free, eventually the fish would lay at the bottom of the boat. If you touched the fish, it would move, trying to get away, in response of being touched. Maybe that is where the phrase, “Cold Fish” came from.

In life you sometimes meet people who are a “cold fish.” They seem to not want anyone or thing to be warm or lovable to them. I’ve seen a few “cold fish” in my growing up years. They were somewhat friendly for a brief period of time only to go back to being a “cold fish.” It is really sad when these “cold fishes” are married to a kind, loving and affectionate mate. Once the “cold fish” gets what they wanted, the romance goes out the door.

It would break my heart to see the reaction of the mate who had a “cold fish.” The mate would try to gives hugs, only the “cold fish” would pull away. A kiss was also rejected. The “cold fish” would use harsh words and words of degradation to put the mate down. Every word that was spoken put a hole in the mate’s heart and being. Before long the mate was like a sieve trying to keep things together. The luster of the mate’s face became dull and the sparkle in their eyes left.

I wondered how many times the mate asked the “cold fish” to do activities together, only to be rejected again with cold words and attitudes. Over and over the mate would try various ways to encourage the “cold fish” to be affectionate. After a while the warm and caring mate stopped trying to give affection to the “cold fish.”

By then the mate was almost dead inside from trying so hard, with so many wounds that had been inflicted on the heart. Finally, the mate thought, it is not worth the effort. Finally, the mate realized that the “cold fish” was getting worse and a change needed to take place. The kind mate needed someone who knew how to give affection and enjoyed it.

Finally, the best thing the warm mate did was to toss the “cold fish” back into the water where it was comfortable and seemed happy in his cold environment.

If fortunate enough, the warm mate would able to find another spot on the lake which the fishes were happy, loving and affectionate to one another. Moral of the story, don’t take the first fish out of the water. With patience, the right fish will come along. If not, you are better off without a “cold fish laying around smelling up your boat.”

Love of Country

Ruby Regina Witcraft

My love of America started when I was too small to remember my parents telling me how lucky I was to be born here. They were immigrants and knew very well the difference between their childhood and mine. This blessing stayed with me throughout my entire life.

About 10 or so years ago I was exchanging a broken flag holder in front of the house as the next day was Memorial Day. My dear laid-back husband asked what I was doing and if I would wait till later in the day, when it was cooler, he would do it. He fussed a little at me and I said, “I’m an agnostic and have to get it done now.” Now I know that is not the proper word for what I was doing but just took a shot at it. He said what the heck is an agnostic?” I repeated, “It was someone who has to get a job done right now even if it hair lips the governor.” Obviously, he did not know the meaning of the word, but being an Okie, he understood the governor bit. You have to grow up there to get the isms.

I married at 22 to a second lieutenant in the Air Force and during his matriculation through the ranks of first lieutenant, captain, major and colonel we were blessed with many, many commemorations. We were expected to attend every Memorial Day, Fourth of July and any other occasion which required a parade, and did so gladly. These events were usually held on a runway, in front of a hangar as I don’t believe the Air Force has parade grounds. You haven’t really fully appreciated these celebrations until you see a platoon of airmen, in dress blues, marching by the grandstand, with fly-by jets performing perfect vees overhead as the band plays “God Bless America” and the national anthem. Even in 100-degree days, with sweat pouring down your armpits, I promise you will get goosebumps as a tear rolls down your cheek.

I love this country and am so proud to be an American.

The Difference in Music Lyrics Over the Years

Barbara Schwartz

Over the course of many, many years, the musical lyrics have changed – sometimes drastically. I am sure that there have many parent-child discussions around the dinner tables of the world with the discussion of music.

Flash back to your teenage years: Maybe it was the Beatles or Pat Boone or the Platters or Diana Ross and the Supremes. Mom – or Dad – would say something to the effect of “This is not music; it is just noise, and the words are terrible and don’t mean much.”

Think about the Beatles songs: Steve Allen made a fortune with a skit about putting different punctuation within the words. Instead of singing “feeling you holding me tight” you could “dirty” it up with a couple of commas. “Feeling you, holding me tight” is quite a bit different.

But, you would argue with the parents, what about YOUR so-called music and those terrible nonsensical words. What is with “Flat Foot Floogie With a Floy-Floy” What is a Floy anyway? And what did all that mean. What about this one: mareseatoatsanddoeseatoatsandlittle1ambseativy, akidlleativytoo, wouldntyou?

What the heck was THAT all about?

Flash forward and now, you are the parent having the same discussion with your teenagers. The argument is pretty much the same with them questioning the greatest music of ALL TIME and you demeaning their choice of Rap (which we all must agree isn’t music at all).

This is simply another version of the Hatfields and the McCoys and there will never be a peaceful ending to this discussion about music and its lyrics.

Wonder what the next two generations will be faced with musically?