Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Star Spangled Banner

Sfalpahageek commented on the Navy's switch to the "Don't Tread on Me" Ensign and suggested as a similar gesture, the military should sing the fourth verse of the National Anthem rather than the first. I do not disagree, though personally I prefer the third verse.

I admit that I like the use of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag. Telling folks that messing with us is a bad idea is a good thing.

However, the real issue is that I would imagine that most Americans do not even know that the Star Spangled Banner has four verses. While singing all four does take a while, the story is not complete at the end of the first verse. Francis Scott Key, in his poem written after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Navy, speaks on behalf of a nation in peril that was rising up to meeting those that threatened it and in end overcome all.

The words

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 watch'd, 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 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: 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 footsteps' 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 free-men 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 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!

Taken from Infoplease.


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