My last post was about what we called “home church” in which we worshipped on Sunday by singing and discussing hymns. I will always see these times together as one of the blessings of this pandemic year. One of my favorite moments was a bit different than the rest. It was Autumn and our college girls had all returned to their young adult congregations, taking with them their sweet voices and piano talent. Our son David was home with us and chose The Star-Spangled Banner. We were down to two bass voices and one struggling soprano. Fortunately our music app also has recordings with voices… ahhh, what a relief to have a few professional female voices with which to sing along…
Many of the women in my family are emotional. I tend to have deep feelings l but rarely are my emotions expressed through tears. Most of the women in my family tear up during KODAK commercials. There is however on thing that is almost sure to make me cry. Our national anthem!!
The Star Spangled Banner. I love it!! I love the story of Francis Scott Key penning the words as he anxiously looked across the bay to see our flag still flying after the Battle of Baltimore! Taking the children to see the actual flag in the Smithsonian was more impressive than I would have ever imagined. As I write I am reminding myself that we need to get a flagpole so that we can display the Stars and Stripes in our yard again…
I digress… Back to the Sunday that we sang and studied The Star-Spangled Banner. Did you know there are three verses? There are lines in these additional verses that should be learned by each citizen of our great country. I love the line, “Blest with vict-ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!” Notice that “Pow’r” is capitalized!
We always stand with hand over our heart when we sing the Star-Spangled Banner. So there in our living room the three of us stood, hands over hearts belting out three verses of our national anthem. I wanted to capture the moment and somehow share it with everyone that I love. Actually with everyone that loves our nation. (Just the feelings, not the actual singing. I won’t be sharing that anytime soon.). I think that I will type out the words so that they can be reread in home-church style… read them and think of their history and try to identify what feelings or insights you may experience. (New formatting on this site and I cannot figure out how to type it as the poetry that it is. Oh well.)
- Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilights’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 rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
- On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected now shines on the stream; ‘Tis the Star-Spangled Banner! Oh, long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
- Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation! Blest with vict-ry and peace, may the head’n-rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto, “In God is our trust!” And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I had planned to stop here but while I am on the subject I have two quick memories – once upon a time we were given free tickets to a professional soccer match. My son Nathan was part of the color guard (see cover image) and since the kids and I we were visiting Salt Lake City we went to watch. During the posting of the colors and the singing of the national anthem, the stadium stood and were silent and respectful. Because my son was on the field barking out the commands (what is is called???) I was particularly sensitive to the rudeness of the visiting team’s spectators. That section was very disrespectful and never shut up. I was also embarrassed because they were from Portland and thus would have been our home team. I was relieved to not be sitting amongst them. Though we had planned to root for them, this behavior caused us to switch allegiance and we were pleased when SLC claimed the victory!! (Note – this is the only professional soccer game I have ever watched and actually have no allegiance at all. Before the game we went to the souvenir shop – I was trying to figure out the name of the team but all I saw was the word “Real” and kept asking, “real what?” – if you know about pro soccer you will know why I was embarrassed to learn “Real” is actually the name of the team.)
A happier memory occurred when we moved to Texas. We used to enjoy attending the Texas Rangers baseball games. I don’t care about professional sports but I do love the atmosphere of professional baseball. It is such fun! One time we were still waiting in security lines to enter the stadium when we heard the national anthem playing. I was amazed and so pleased when the crowds outside the stadium stopped, removed their hats and stood still, many with hands over hearts, until the singing was complete. Very cool!
I know that I am not alone in my love of country, flag and the Star-Spangled Banner. It seems that we tend to be more quiet than those who feel differently, but I am glad to have put into writing just a few of my feelings and experiences. I am also so pleased to have children who love their country. If we don’t teach them I am afraid that no one else will… Perhaps we should sing our anthem at home a little more often?