Today is the day that America celebrates its independence from England. For 234 years this little upstart nation has been feeling its way through the pains and tribulation of democracy. At times, we’ve succeeded; at other times, we’ve failed miserably, but throughout it all there has been an underlying sense that we’ve been forging ahead for the right reasons. That unifying force has been our flag, ever changing in its design, but always at the heart of what we hold true in our minds; democracy, freedom, liberty, patriotism.
That is why, even though the evil done under this flag is at times disheartening, I still stand proudly with tears glistening in my eyes and sing:
O, say can you see
by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed
at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars
through the perilous fight
o’er the ramparts we watched
were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets red glare,
the bombs bursting in air
gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there.
O, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
There are 3 more verses to this beautiful song, but this is what is typically known as our national anthem. And, I’ve heard about a dozen different ways to sing it, including the infamous Roseanne “screech” and the legendary Whitney Houston high note on the last line. But, it never fails to bring my mind back to the people I know and love who believe in the power of this flag even more strongly than I do.
The flag pictured above was photographed by myself at Ft. McHenry, the birthplace of our national anthem. My daughter and I helped to unroll a replica of the original flag which measured 30′ x 42′ and was hand sewn by Mary Pickersgill and others at the behest of Major Armistead who requested a flag “so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it at a distance.” Thank you, Mr. Key for writing a great poem, Mrs. Pickersgill for your diligence in your work, and Major Armistead for being determined not to allow the British to roll over Baltimore.
Have a wonderful Independence Day and long may our flag wave.
See you in the funny papers!