We should be proud of the respect we accord our nation’s flag. We all remember the firefighters who raise the tattered flag they found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center. An earlier generation rallied round a flag similarly raised by Marines atop a volcanic atoll in the Pacific. And of course, we still hail America’s most famous flag at the start of every ball game nearly two hundred years after a young lawyer wrote down some remarks about it.
Between now and November 12, Nashville has a unique opportunity to visit another famous flag: the original Old Glory.
Old Glory was originally flown from [William] Driver’s merchant ship in the 1820s/1830s. When in Nashville , he hoisted it across the street at each national holiday and on his birthday of March 17. As the Civil War drew near and sentiment for the Confederacy grew in Nashville.
Driver, a staunch Unionist, reportedly hid Old Glory by having it sewn into a quilt. The war divided Driver’s family as his two sons fought for the Confederacy and one son was killed at the Battle of Perryville.
In 1862 Nashville became the first state capital in the Confederacy to fall to Union troops. Upon the arrival of Union soldiers, Driver removed Old Glory from its hiding place and flew it from the State Capitol.
The newspapers of the time ran stories of Old Glory being brought out of hiding. Before long, people began referring to all U.S. flags as Old Glory.
This piece of American history is now on loan to the Tennessee State Museum. It’s a good excuse to visit the museum and explore more of the Volunteer State’s history.