Explain the history behind the lyrics to "You're a Grand Old Flag."

Expert Answers
beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George M. Cohen wrote the song “You’re a Grand Old Flag” to be included in his musical “George Washington, Jr.” Cohen wrote the lyrics after a discussion he had with a Civil War veteran. The Battle of Gettysburg veteran carried a piece of the American flag with him and he said to Cohen, “She’s a grand old rag.” Cohen wrote his song using that quote but he met with consternation at calling the flag a rag so he changed the title.

The song made its debut in 1906 when the play “George Washington, Jr.” opened in a theater located in New York City’s, Herald Square. The catchy, patriotic tune caught the public’s attention and sold over a million copies of sheet music. This is significant because it was never done before.

The lyrics to the simple version, the complete version, and an audio version can be found at the link below.

Further Reading: