The story goes like this: During a parade, songwriter George Cohan happened upon a Civil War veteran carrying a tattered American flag. Cohan made mention of the flag, and, grinning, the vet replied “She’s a grand old rag”. Inspiration struck. And the final result: a tune named “You’re a Grand Old Rag”, which he included in his 1906 musical George Washington Jr. Critics took umbrage with Cohan likening Old Glory to a rag. He responded with the change: “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, and we’ve sung it that way ever since.
But you can’t please everyone. Want to read the original LIFE Magazine critique? Click right here.