Johnny Cash’s “Ragged Old Flag” Takes Center Stage During Super Bowl’s “Tribute To America”

Austin Kellerman / YouTube

At this point, one of the most used songs in Super Bowl commercials has got to be Johnny Cash’s “Ragged Old Flag.” And we are not complaining. In fact, we celebrate it!

Released in 1974, “Ragged Old Flag” is done in a spoken style and Cash serves as the story’s narrator. He talks about meeting an old man outside a courthouse, and the man starts talking about their tattered flag and all it represents. He discusses the many battles and wars the United States had been through at that point, discussing how the flag has been shot, stabbed, and burned, yet remains a symbol of strength for our country.

To sum it up, the man says he is “mighty proud of that ragged old flag,” and says it should be treated with respect.

In 2017, the iconic song kicked off Super Bowl LI, which aired on Fox, with a three-and-a-half minute TV spot. It showed a man and a woman leaving their respective houses and showing up to different historical sites going up to “a park bench [with] an old man sitting there,” just like Cash sings in the song.  As Cash sing-speaks through the tune, the commercial shows what he is referring to, like the Alamo and World War I. It also spows the Iwo Jima statue, the USS Arizona memorial, the 9/11 Memorial site, and many more sites that make our country what it is – great.

For the 2020 Super Bowl, Fox was broadcasting the game once again and they used “Ragged Old Flag” in a pre-game video, which spotlighted women who own NFL teams, who are known as “The First Ladies of the NFL.” But the real star of the commercial is Kyle Carpenter, the youngest living recipient of the Medal of Honor.

The video is a celebration of all the events the United States has been through since inception. It also honors those we’ve lost, particularly the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Families of 9/11 victims are seen in the tribute, and the video ends at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. See it below.

Fox once more broadcasted the Super Bowl in 2023 and used “Ragged Old Flag” to kick off the big game. The commercial is labeled as a “Tribute To America,” and featured American’s Youth Choir. It is a continuation of the 2017 and 2020 commercials, using the same footage of the man and woman sitting down next to older men on park benches, and footage of Carpenter.

New footage shows children walking through a museum, learning about each of the events that Cash speaks about in “Ragged Old Flag.”

The American Youth Choir was formed by Ben Bram, Shams Ahmed, and Pentatonix’s Scott Hoying. They also arranged the music they sang, which was a perfect backdrop for this patriotic commercial.

Watch Super Bowl LVII’s “Tribute To America” to the tune of Johnny Cash’s “Ragged Old Flag” below.

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