” And Our Flag was Still There

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, 
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming, 
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we’d watch were so gallantly streaming

What was the lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key thinking as he watched the horror and wrote down what he saw in a poem? He was watching the birth of Freedom right before his eyes!

And the rocket’s 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? 

 

He was watching the famous battle of Baltimore in the ‘Defending of Fort McHenry. ‘The British fleet with 19 ships pounded the fort for 72 hours with rockets and mortar shells.  British riflemen landed, firing on the fort, but were given orders to withdraw if there were 2000 or more men in the fort. On the morning of September 14th, a huge American flag made by local flag maker Mary Pickersgill and her 13-year old daughter was hoisted above Fort McHenry, which had only 1000 soldiers.   The British, uncertain of this, retreated. Perhaps it was the over-sized flag that dissuaded them? And freedom took root in America and grew strong.
On the shore dimly seen through 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? 
This was the first time the glorious flag of Stripes and Stars would stand guard over the land in times of turmoil and war. The Civil War, decades later, would divide this land which was fought for so hard. Brother would slay brother, and the blood of soldiers once fighting together would darken this great land with their blood.

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

 

The Civil war ended and the flag of the south was now a memorial of a horrendous altercation. One flag once again waved over the United States and the people said, ‘never again.’
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, 
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion 
A home and a Country should leave us no more
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
The land was growing healthy and strong, taking their freedom for granted as their   flag waved as a symbol of unity and pride. Then two world wars turned the world into a battlefield. Countries divided this time and the United States took it’s men and flag and fought and died. Ten million women, men and children were gassed by Germany’s Hitler and Japanese families annihilated by the first Atomic Bomb. The Galliant flag was raised up by American Marines on Iwojima and the war ended–but not in glory. Surely this would be the last war.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Yet history would repeat itself in the Korean War; a police action, they said. We lost more young lives fighting, supposedly for freedom among people who did not ask for freedom. Our flag meant nothing to them, then or now. Still not learning, America stepped in again in Vietnam, after France gave up, and tried to stop a war between the North and South. Again, a useless waste of lives which finally came to a standstill but never a real end.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand 
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation! 
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land 
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!  
The Gulf Wars were next, another waste of time and lives trying to teach freedom to tribal nomads who would accept our help then turn to fight again. We lost so many then to gain little or nothing but graves wept over by sobbing parents and friends.
And now we fight the most heinous war since the Holocaust–The War on Terrorism. On 911, along with over 3000 innocent people, our flag was besmirched and destroyed with a hatred never yet seen—yet pieces of it survived and it’s freedom
preserved.  But for how long– as it’s warmongers kill their own as well as ours. They seem to lack a soul.

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.

And this be our motto – “In God is our trust”! Francis Scott Key

This fourth of July as firecrackers burst in the air, and people gather together celebrating a holiday they’ve long since forgotten why, look up, look high and take note of the flag that waves over you; wanting nothing more than to keep us together as one united nation. The best way to lose this freedom is to fight among ourselves, letting enemies unknown overtake us in our desire to destroy ourselves. Gaze at the flag intently. Are these droplets of tears rolling down it’s magnificent stripes, or did it just begin to rain?
As Pogo in the comic strip once said :”We have met the enemy and he is us.”  
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2 thoughts on “” And Our Flag was Still There

  1. What a great and timely piece of writing…really enjoyed it. Too few people actually know the poem that inspired the song, and sadly, too few know the history of this great country!!

    Like

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