During the Super Bowl pre-show, viewers were hit in the face with some patriotic feels in the form of Johnny Cash's "Ragged Old Flag" lyrics overlaying a Fox TV spot. "Fox Sports likes to take advantage of the gigantic audience that it gets for the Super Bowl," Coordinating Producer Jennifer Pranksy explained in a behind-the-scenes video about the feature. "Not just spend that talking about sports, but use that platform to actually promote the things that matter to us. And, for us, that's really our country and America." By showing the history of the country, throughout numerous wars, overlaid by powerful Johnny Cash lyrics, Fox got super patriotic to amazing effect.
"Ragged Old Flag" is a spoken word song, which was the only single released from Cash's 1974 album of the same name. At the time, the nation was mired in the Watergate Scandal and, into all of that conversation about the secrets and lies of the American government, the singer released this tribute to patriotism that still resonates today. The opening lyrics of the song, and the commercial, are pretty powerful in and of themselves:
"I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench, an old man was sitting there.
I said, 'Your old court house is kinda run down.'
He said, 'Nah, it'll do for our little town.'
I said, 'Your old flag pole is leaned a little bit,
And that's a ragged old flag you got hanging on it.'
He said, 'Have a seat,' and I sat down
'Is this the first time you've been to our little town?'
I said, 'I think it is.'
He said 'I don't like to brag,
But we're kinda proud of that ragged old flag.'
From there, the song/poem moves into the history of that "ragged old flag," from Washington taking it across the Delaware to Korea to Vietnam and back again. The story concludes with the amazing line, "She's been through the fire before and I believe she can take a whole lot more." It's a particularly resonate message coming out of one of the most controversial elections in modern history, and that was absolutely the point.
As Nate Boyer states in the behind the scenes clip, "Our country now more than any time I've been alive feels more divided." A military man, Boyer finds this frustrating, and the unifying message of "Ragged Old Flag" is a perfect one to soothe that emotion. It reminds us all that, no matter how much we might disagree, this is still our country and what that flag represents is always worth fighting for.
So take it from Johnny Cash when you need a little boost:
"So we raise her up every morning
And we bring her down slow every night
We don't let her touch the ground
And we fold her up right.
On second thought I do like to brag
'Cause I'm mighty proud of that ragged old flag."