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By: Veteran Dallas Wilson
Before I begin, I wish to state that I am not a historian, and I normally do not get involved in political agendas. but the past few months and years I have been exposed to so much criticism of our country, flag, and patriotism I have decided that I needed to make my own type statement.
Maybe I was inspired by a recent development in which our schoolchildren were given the opportunity to write an essay on “What Patriotism Means To Me?” I read essay submissions and was quite proud that our youth were able to articulate, in writing, what patriotism is to them. Some humbled me and brought a tear to my heart that they thought so much of our now troubled land.
I think this is what inspired me to finally say something that has troubled me for some time.
There has been talk that our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, is not appropriate and that we should adopt another song to sing instead of this time-honored reflection. I would like to take a moment of your time to explain the reasoning behind these lyrics.
“Oh, say can you see by the dawns early light…”
The writer of the composition is giving you a hint of what is to come of this most historic event. A sense of wonder at something you will grasp in awe to know that this momentous event is something to behold when you know the rest of the story.
“What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?”
He gives you a teasing reminder that something was seen by all when nightfall was approaching the day before and it was wondered if this sight would be seen again.
“Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,”
Now we begin to understand that it is our flag being talked about. Our young country had adopted a flag, which symbolized the blood, and sacrifice that the new country was willing to shed.
The red of the flag symbolizes the blood shed for the conception of this country and the white the bandages to bind the wounds and heal the hurts and sufferings of all those who were/are willing to make sure our republic stands as a shining beacon of hope for those who dare dream of something better.
The stars were the fledging states who shown a path for all to see and hope for a better place, a better opportunity. The latter part was a prelude to the next stanza concerning the fight through the night of a fight, which would make history.
“O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?”
Unknown to many, Francis Scott Key, was acting as a mediator for the release of captured American men who were prisoners aboard English Naval vessels. He was observing the bombardment of the fort the British were bombing.
He watched and then relayed to the imprisoned men below decks that our flag was still standing sentinel over the fort and proudly warding off the attack mercilessly carried out by the British Fleet.
“And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,”
You will have to imagine the darkest night. There is no illumination save the artillery bombardment from the British navy. As the rockets and projectiles exploded in the air and on the fort itself, the glow from this and the streaking rockets would light up the sky and illuminate our battered flag.
“Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
Historical accounts reflect that the British Naval officers were frustrated that the might of the British Empire could not tear our flag down from its mast. Remember the first stanza; “By the dawn’s early light…” this is what they had attempted to do all night long. Destroy this fragile, young, and upstart nation.
Take away the hope, take away the dreams, take away the future of dreamers who would dare to defy tyranny and make a place of their own. They were wrong!
We defied, we fought, and we believed in a dream that all humanity could have a better future. This is what sustained our flag and kept it flying through the night as witness by the most powerful nation, at that time, in the world.
“O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave”
Through the ages, this is what we still say. When times are at their darkest and it seems as if all may be lost, we look back at that time and these and ask that question. The next and last stanza completes our thought.
“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
Yes, we may have troubles and live in troubled times but our flag is still there! We are not perfect and we are constantly evolving but there are people in this country who insure that our star spangled banner yet waves for all those United States represented in white stars on a sea of blue.
We insure that all those who have sacrificed by building this country to be the greatest nation in the world and a beacon of hope for all to strive for. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.
There are injustices abroad our land. This is quite evident as we see televised events, read papers and magazines, and simply listen to our elders as they speak of things done in the past. It is our duty to correct this and attempt to not do as those before us have done.
It is our responsibility to teach the correct history and not give a history as dictated by the conqueror. We must respect all who live in this land and try to be a true citizen of this land in which we live.
Yes, there have been wrongs but it is our duty to understand the times and not make those times our time now.
My personal opinion, to say that our time honored national anthem is not relevant as it has “bombs bursting and rockets, violent things in it” give credence to the ignorance of what this nation has had to endure to survive.
This song lets all know that we have and will endured the worst that has been thrown at us. From the birth of our nation to the terroristic attacks we have recently witnessed, our flag has still flown, and God willing it will continue to do so.