December 5, 2011

Birth of Bennett: Hats off!

The US flag had 35 stars when Bennett was born.
Henry Holcomb Bennett was born in Chillicothe, Ohio on December 5, 1863. After graduating from Kenyon College in 1886, he moved west to work in the railroad business before returning to his home town as a journalist. By 1897, he left journalist to focus on more creative writing, including short stories and poems (he also often illustrated his own works; he was a landscape painter as well). His other nonfiction work included essays about military life, Ohio history, and ornithology.

Bennett's most famous work remains his patriotic poem "The Flag Goes By," which was immediately included in several students' readers around the turn of the century. It is still taught in some Ohio schools:

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A flash of color beneath the sky:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

Blue and crimson and white it shines,
Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines.
Hats off!
The colors before us fly;
But more than the flag is passing by.

Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
Fought to make and to save the State:
Weary marches and sinking ships;
Cheers of victory on dying lips;

Days of plenty and years of peace;
March of a strong land's swift increase;
Equal justice, right and law;
Stately honor and reverend awe;

Sign of a nation, great and strong
To ward her people from foreign wrong:
Pride and glory and honor,— all
Live in the colors to stand or fall.

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums;
And loyal hearts are beating high:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

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