I Can’t Sing The National Anthem

July 4, 2016

Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin

By: T F Stern | The Moral Liberal

Flag

Well, that’s not quite true; I can’t sing the National Anthem without tears dripping down my cheeks and a large knot forming in my throat.  You see, I know some of the story about how this tune came about.

This morning as we closed our church service the closing hymn was The Star Spangled Banner.  I wonder if other denominations have that in their hymn book; I would hope so.

The congregation arose as the choir master stood to lead us, the first notes played by the organist sent a shiver down my spine.  I really did try to sing out, honest; but emotions got the better of me so I let everyone else pay tribute to our nation while I mouthed the words, tears welling up in the corner of my eyes.

I’ve been battling a chest cold and these emotions got my sinuses going full blast.  I didn’t need this; damn it all, now I’m congested again.

As we stood through all three verses my mind imagined the night Francis Scott Key stood watching as Ft. Henry was to be shelled into oblivion by the British Navy.  You see, the British were still miffed for having lost the Revolutionary War and decided to give it another ‘go’ a few years later; historians called it the War of 1812.

The British had given the occupants of Ft. Henry a way out; simply lower your flag and become subjects of British rule.  Their situation was impossible as hundreds of British war ships pounded this insignificant fort all through the night…and yet the flag remained, lighted as it were by the bombs bursting in air.

The British commander was perplexed and couldn’t fathom why they didn’t surrender; there was no way they could win.

Francis Scott Key said he remembered what George Washington had said. He said, “The thing that sets the American Christian apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he’ll live on his knees.”

In the morning, by the dawn’s early light, the flag could still be seen from the deck of the British war ship, tattered and leaning at a peculiar angle it remained standing to everyone’s amazement.

Apparently each time the flag had been knocked down a brave man would stand it up in spite of the horrendous shelling.  Many died keeping that flag upright and standing and as far as I know their names were never recorded.

I guess some of our youth haven’t been properly taught the importance of our flag and some of what goes into being a citizen of this great nation.

Years ago during a baseball game someone recorded what has been called “the greatest play in baseball”.  It happened on April 25, 1976 when a couple of malcontents jumped onto the ball field in the middle of a game and tried to light an American Flag on fire.  Rick Monday, an outfielder for the Dodgers ran over, grabbed the Flag and saved it to the delight of most everyone watching.

Bill Ayers stomping American FlagFar too many folks go about disrespecting our country through their hostility when destroying or demeaning the Flag.  Some stomp on it, like home grown terrorist Bill Ayers, good friend and supporter of Barrack Obama.  Others use it like toilet paper while displaying obscenities at the camera.  Heaven help them should I happen by while they disrespect the Flag in my presence.

I wish I knew the name of even one person who died at Ft. Henry while holding up that Flag, a symbol of never giving up in the face of insurmountable odds.  Perhaps they’ll forgive my not being a better historian; certainly they’ll understand my not being able to sing out this morning.

But I know the words to that familiar tune; yes I know them all too well as my chest swells with pride and my eyes fill with tears.

The Star-Spangled Banner

1 Oh 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 thru 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?

 

2 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!

 

3 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 heav’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!

T.F. SternThe Moral Lib­eral’s Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.

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