By Diane Larson


Irish American singer, song writer, actor and playwright George M. Cohan wrote these words, “You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag, and forever in peace may you wave. You’re the emblem of the land I love, the home of the free and the brave.” 

In an article found on the Performing Arts Encyclopedia page of The Library of Congress the idea and lyrics for that famous song came to Cohan from a conversation he had with a veteran of the Civil War. Cohan was sitting next to the man and they talked. He told Cohan that he fought at Gettysburg. The veteran was sitting with a ragged, beat up flag, carefully folded and lying on his lap. As Cohan gazed at the flag in man’s lap, the veteran looked up at Cohan and said, “She’s a Grand Old Rag.”

That conversation and those words stayed with Cohan. He initially tried to use those words in his song, “she’s a grand old rag.” But that fell to numerous objections, referring to the American flag as a ‘rag.’ So Cohan changed the words to the ones we know and sing today “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

This song of Cohan’s was the first to sell over a million copies of sheet music. It also spurred a popular cultural identity as the song spread through households across America.

According to the website, The Flag Of The United States of America, we don’t know for absolute certainty who designed our flag. It is widely believed that it was Francis Hopkinson, a congressman from New York.

In 1776 he was assigned to the Continental Navy Board and it is believed that during this period he designed the flag. One theory about the design tells of a book that belonged to Hopkinson’s family. This book was taken from their home by a Hessian soldier in December of 1776. The book was, Discourses on Public Occasions in America (London, 1762) by William Smith, D.D.

The Hessian soldier wrote in the book that he had taken the book from “a fine country seat near Philadelphia.” This inscription was above and below the family bookplate that held three six pointed stars and the family motto “Always Ready.” The book found its way back to Hopkinson and it is believed that, for Hopkinson, it symbolized a revitalization of hope for Americans. 

According to the same website, only a few historians believe that the seamstress from Philadelphia, Betsy Ross, actually sewed the original design.

In the years that followed, the flag saw many changes through official Flag Acts that would re-design the pattern by placing the stars and stripes in different arrangements.

The Flag Act of June 14, 1777 said, "Resolved that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

Then in January of 1794 the next Flag Act said it should be 15 stripes and 15 stars to be changed after May 1795.

In April of 1818 it was to be changed to 13 stripes and one star for each state to be added on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.

An order from President Taft in June of 1912 established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be pointed upward.

The executive Order of President Eisenhower in January of 1959 provided arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically. That changed in August of the same year to nine rows staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

It seems everything takes a beating these days and the flag is certainly one of the things. It has been debated over and trashed time and again. It has been used as a symbolic expression in protest and burnt. Yet, it waves high in the land where protest, debate and discourse are possible.

American actor, singer and songwriter Johnny Cash wrote a song about our American flag. We will leave you with some of his words from the song. "And the government for which she stands is scandalized throughout the land. And she’s getting threadbare and wearing thin, but she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. “Cause she’s been through the fire before and I believe she can take a whole lot more.”






As an adjunct to the Yellowstone Art Museum’s exhibition Harold Schlotzhauer: The Shape of Motion, which features many sports decks including skateboards, the museum announced an open call to all area skateboarders living in south-central Montana to compete in 360°, a skateboard design competition and exhibition.

Application forms and design templates were made available to participants who submitted designs for exhibition and jurying at the Yellowstone Art Museum. All family-friendly entries were exhibited on the gallery walls May 3-29, 2016. Entries were judged and winners selected by secret ballots from museum visitors. Entries were accepted in three age categories: 5-12 (98 entries received), 13-17 (51 entries received), and 18 and older (13 entries received. During the run of the exhibition 1290 votes were cast for visitor favorites.

The winner in each age category will receive a fully-loaded skateboard with their winning design applied to the deck. Winners will be announced and skateboards distributed to the winners at a public event at the Billings Skate Park at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, June 26, 2016.

After joining participants for the presentation at the skateboard park, attendees may choose to view the exhibition that inspired this competition and event by visiting the YAM where admission to the museum is always free to members. The general public is invited to visit for a modest admission fee for non-members, and remember that the first Saturday of each month is a dollar day. So get a grip on imaginative decks and join in another community-minded activity presented by the Yellowstone Art Museum—Your Art Museum. For more information about the museum’s programs, please visit

The Yellowstone Art Museum gratefully acknowledges and thanks the Mary Alice Fortin Foundation and Discontent for making this exhibition and competition possible.

Suzanne Potter

BILLINGS, Mont. - Supporters of Initiative 182, which would create a more tightly regulated system for medical marijuana, are launching a massive last-minute push to gather enough signatures to make it onto the ballot by the June 17 deadline. They've got about 25,000 signatures, more than the minimum required, but need an extra 10,000 to cover signatures that get disqualified. So they'll be out in force this weekend and on Tuesday, primary day, talking to as many voters as possible.

Gregory Zuckert, vice chairman with the Montana Cannabis Industry Association said the existing system is too vague and unstable, and needs more quality control.

"What voters are voting on is a more responsible and accountable medical marijuana program that allows for testing, licensing, inspections and has a lot more detailed structure to it," he said.

In 2011, the Legislature passed SB 423, which limited providers to just three patients each, effectively killing the program. The Cannabis Industry Association sued and won a partial stay, but then lost at the state Supreme Court in February and now has until August 31 to comply. It has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Zuckert said the stigma attached to medical marijuana is fading as more people recognize its benefits for conditions ranging from cancer to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"Clearly, cannabis has an extraordinary degree of efficacy for treatment for certain ailments," he said. "We create cannabinoids in our own bodies. We have evolved with this plant for thousands and thousands of years."

Montana currently has about 450 providers, who serve approximately 13,000 patients.

Pub Station at 2502 First Avenue North, Billings, MT 59101

General Admission/21+

Show at 9:00 pm—No Cover Charge/Free

Consisting of three members, The Last Revel uses traditional folk-minded three part harmonies with honest and meaningful lyrics to deliver a passionate and soul stirring performance. On a backbone of rebellious rock attitude and raw traditional instrumentation, band members pride themselves on an unrelenting work ethic and a deep hunger to write, perform, and entertain.

The Last Revel is known for crafting a rowdy live performance that inspires crowds to move to every tune. The Last Revel honed their style at a weekly open mic night at a dive bar in Southern Minnesota. Their performance spread by word of mouth until the bar was at maximum capacity every Thursday. When the dance floor was full, folks danced on tables. The Last Revel strives for such wild performances at every show.

The Last Revel received great response from press and fans alike from their first official recording entitled, “The Mason Jar EP” in February of 2013.

With their debut full-length release entitled “UPROOTED” in February of 2014, The Last Revel’s momentum continues to grow and The Band is poised to take their sound to anywhere that welcomes their own brand of lyric driven, foot moving, folk music.

More information is available at