George M Cohan wrote “You’re a Grand Old Flag” in 1906 for his musical “George Washington, Jr.” However, the original title of the song was “You’re a Grand Old Rag”.
That title came from an chance encounter Cohan had with a Civil War Veteran who fought at Gettysburg. Cohan notice that the man was holding a carefully folded but ragged old flag. The man turned to Cohan an said affectionately of the flag, "She's a grand old rag." Cohan thought it was a great idea for a song and originally named his song "You're a Grand Old Rag." However, a lot of people objected to calling the flag a "rag," so he changed the words, and renamed the song "You're a Grand Old Flag."
"You're a Grand Old Flag" was the first song from a musical to sell over a million copies of sheet music.
George M. Cohan was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 3rd, 1878 but claimed he was “Born on the Fourth of July” and coming from a family of entertainers they couldn’t resist the publicity value so they changed his birthday ever so slightly.
So patriotic and inspiring were many songs of George M. Cohan that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor (not to be confused with the military’s Medal of Honor) for his contributions to national morale during World War I. He is the only American composer to receive such an honor.