Friday, July 01, 2005

Francis Scott Key got it right...

If America’s favorite pastime is baseball, then it is appropriate that baseball games begin with the singing of the national anthem.

But back in the late summer months 1814, baseball wasn’t on the minds of the residents of Washington DC. (Baseball didn’t even exist!)

The summer of 1814 had much in common with today’s America in 2005. The US homeland had been attacked by foreign forces. In some ways the cituatioThe country was at war. American citizens were being held hostage by a foreign power.

The British had invaded Washington DC and were marching on to Baltimore. Washington attorney Francis Scott Key had been sent to negotiate a prisoner release, but as the battle for Fort McHenry began in earnest, Key was unable to return to the District o Columbia. Instead, he waited out the battle on a ship anchored eight miles from Fort McHenry.

As the night wore on, there was much speculation. Had Fort McHenry fallen to the invading British troops?

As the first rays of the sun broke through, Key caught a glimpse of the Stars and Stripes flying over the fort. The Fort had survived the night and was still in American hands.

The thrill of victory inspired Key to grab a letter from his pocket, and begin writing down his thoughts. The thoughts became a poem. The poem became our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.

Most of us know the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner.

But somehow, as I watch the news of the War on Terror, and see news footage of American troops battling in Iraq and Afghanistan, I find myself drawn over and over to the fourth verse of the national anthem.

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who do not realize the Star Spangled Banner has four verses. Yes, the first verse is wonderful. But our national identity isn’t just expressed in those first lines; it pervades throughout all four verses.

When Francis Scott Key wrote about the American victory in the harbor at Baltimore, he had more in mind than the glory of winning.

Take a moment and read the words of the fourth verse:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Those words are just as appropriate for 2005 as they were for 1814.

Take a moment and look at what the words really mean, and how they apply to us today as much as they did to young America in 1814.

Once again, American volunteers “stand between their loved homes and the war’s desolation”. The war against terror is one that must be fought to keep the battles, the “war’s desolation”, from our “loved homes

”Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation”

This country has been spared much of the desolation that other countries have experienced over the last century. Although we have fought wars, since the Civil War we have not had to fight one on our own soil. We have lost servicemen and women in wars, but for the most part, until September 11, 2001, the wars have not taken lives of civilians in our homeland. Despite the inevitable economic cycles, we have largely known peace and prosperity. We have truly been blessed as a nation. Key’s description of America as
“the heaven rescued land” is quite description.

He goes even farther when he acknowledges the role of God in the creation and preservation o the United States, and calls for the nation to praise God.

“Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just”

Key understood the basic principle that wars, when fought, must be fought to win. These words should be resonating through our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must win this war against terror. It is a just war, and one that we did not start.

Key continues:
“And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."”

Despite the best efforts of some, “one nation under God” remains in our Pledge of Allegiance. “In God we trust” remains on our currency.

"In God is our trust" must remain our national creed if we want to see the final two lines perpetrated:

“And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

The words of fourth verse of the Star Spangled Banner are just as compelling today as they were nearly two centuries ago when Key first put them to paper. They should be mandatory reading for all Americans; these words should be taught in our schools.

Yes, Francis Scott Key said it very well on September 20, 1814:

“Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation”

Is anyone today listening?

|

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home