From NZCPR Breaking Views archives - By David Round
The Enemy of Nationhood
There was a poem which my mother had learnt off by heart as a girl and portions of which she could long remember and recite to us. It was, I later discovered, Whittier's Barbara Frietchie, and it tells of a true episode in the American Civil War when Confederate forces, occupying a town in the north, decreed on pain of death that all Union flags in the town should be taken down. Heroic old Barbara refused, and
‘Shoot if you must this old grey head
But spare your country’s flag’ she said.
The officer was moved.
‘Who touches a hair of yon grey head
Dies like a dog! March on!’ he said.