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What our National Anthem really means.

Submitted: December 17, 2013

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Submitted: December 17, 2013




Its seems in the past few years the actions of some during the playing of The National Anthem has been perceived to some as an acceptable means of honor. The hollering, yelling during the last two lines of what is being played or to some the clapping and hollering throughout the whole playing is seen as the way honoring. I say it is just a way they show their ignorance of what the Star Bangled Banner really means and what a show of honor is.

I grant you that some of their intentions are in good faith, most the fault does not lie with them; it lies with us, the compliance ones who try in our own minds to justify the actions instead of explaining the meaning of honor and of the truth behind the words of the song.

While we are young one of the first things we learn in school are the words of The Pledge of Allegiance and The Star Spangled Banner and our actions as they are being said or played.


Some who elect to serve their country learn early on when The National Anthem is played, no matter where you are, no matter what equipment you are on, you stop, face the direction of the Anthem, stand at attention with a salute. Some learn from their fathers and are raised to respect the flag and the country she stands for.


Years ago my father took myself and two of my friends to a minor league baseball game. He bought us all the usual Cracker Jacks and Coke while we waited for the game to start. As everyone stood as The National Anthem was being sung my buddies and I were giggling at the way the singer was singing, that was until the left hand of my father rested easily on my right shoulder, I knew it was time to shut up and stand quietly.


After the game my father dropped off my two friends and stopped by our house where he told my mother he needed to go somewhere and show me something. I was excited after he turned into what looked like a park that was until all the white headstones. All the same, all in rows all looking like they were proud to be in such a beautiful area, all looking like they were at attention. I asked my father why we were there and his answer will live with me forever. “I thought you should see some of the men who have  given their lives to defend what you giggled at today.” I just stood there not knowing what to say. He asked what I knew about the Star Spangled Banner, this I remembered was my chance to impress him. I told him that during the Revolutionary War a man named Francis Scott Key was held prisoner on a British warship and saw an attack on one of our forts and the glare from the bombs let him know our fort was still ok because the flag was still flying and he wrote a song to what he saw. I felt pretty good at my explanation, until my father put his arm on my shoulder and said” Now let me tell you the real story”.


“In 1814, during the War of 1812, not the revolutionary war, President Madison gave to a lawyer named Francis Scott Key a mission to contact the British for a prisoner exchange. The exchange was for a Dr. William Beans whom British solders had written letters telling of the doctor’s efforts and kindness in his treatment toward them. The lawyer Kee and a Col. Skinner sailed under a flag of truce to the British warship Tonnant to bring the letters and the official statement from President Madison for the prisoner exchange. While on board it was agreed to the exchange but Key and Col. Skinner had overheard too much information about the upcoming attack on Baltimore and Fort McHenry. Kee and the others were placed on a sloop behind the warships as the attack commenced. It was aboard the sloop that Key watched the glare of the rockets seeing the flag still waving knowing as long as the flag still waved the Americans were still in control. He also knew that the same rockets whose glare had shown the flag still flying also were the same ones who were killing the ones inside the fort defending not only America but the flag which symbolized all what our country had been created on. The thoughts and feelings he had he penned down and a few days later and wrote a poem he called “Defense of Ft. Henry”. It was later on when it was turned into a song and almost 120 years before we adopted it as our National Anthem.” As he looked down on me keeping his arm around my shoulders, we both looked over the markers. He said” Anytime you hear the Anthem or see the flag I want you to remember these men and all the others who have given, don’t think about the upcoming game to be played don’t think about anything else, burn this image in your mind so you never forget”. I did, I do and no I have never forgotten and not once have I ever heard The Star Spangled Banner or seen a flag that, that image is not with me or his words. Before we got home he quoted:


“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand between their loved home and wars desolation. Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven rescued land, praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, and this be our motto, "In God is our Trust."  I asked where those words came from and he looked at me and just said ,”From our National Anthem.”



Go by a national Cemetery and the next time you hear the Anthem think about that image and the ones whom have given all to the defense of the anthem, flag and country. 






The Star Spangled Banner

By Francis Scott Key

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, thro' 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 thro' 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?

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist 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 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.

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.
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.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
  Between their lov'd home and war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n-rescued land
  Praise the pow'r that hath made and preserv'd 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

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