"Then, in that hour of deliverance, my heart spoke. Does not such a country, and such defenders of their country, deserve a song?" Francis Scott Key
Not many Americans really know the story behind the Star Spangled Banner and it is an amazing story about ordinary men, women and children. Not a story of the typical heroes of the Revolutionary War but just simple souls seeking to live a life in peace, free from tyranny and oppression. A people wanting to make their way in the world by the sweat of their brow and the callouses of their hands and owe their allegiance to no one but God Almighty. Oh, I know, these days it is considered politically incorrect to say that America was founded as a nation dedicated to God and Jesus Christ by men who revered Him, loved Him, and fought and died for Him. The tribes of Israel and the sons of Joseph had come to their new promised land, under their new name and just wanted to live free and in peace. Anyway back to the story of the star spangled banner and Francis Scott Key. It is an amazing story and one that I did not learn of until I was much older than school age. The thing that dumbfounded me when I happened on this little tidbit of history is that I was never taught this in school. I think if I had been taught more about the people of the revolution instead of droll facts, battles and dates, I would have had much more interest in history. It wasn't until I started researching my own genealogy that I truly began to learn about history and especially history of that time. There are so many family with records that tell a story of a people and you truly do not find those stories until you start looking for your own story of your own people. So on this 4th of July I would like to share with you the story behind the Star Spangled Banner, words to a song that we often sing without thinking of their meaning. I may have certain details incorrect, but that truly is irrelevant because this song is a tribute to a people, not a time or a place. During the revolutionary war it was common for Britain and the Colonies to exchange prisoners of war. Francis Scott Key was sent on such a mission, to exchange prisoners of war with a British Admiral. The colonial prisoners were being held off shore of New York? (somebody correct me if I am wrong). Actually the whole British fleet was out there. Key made his way out to the ship and in discussing the exchange with the admiral, was interrupted by the admiral who said that by morning no exchange would be necessary. The prisoners would be free to go. Key was puzzled by this and questioned the meaning of the admiral's words. The admiral told Key to look over at the shore, at a small Fort flying the American flag. I believe it was Fort McHenry but since I am too lazy to go looking through boxes of genealogy notes I will depend on one of you to supply the correct fort. The Admiral then told Key that by morning light the war would be over because that Fort had been instructed to take down that flag or the entire British fleet would open fire and destroy it. Key the pleaded with the admiral because you see, there were only a handful of colonial soldiers at that fort. Most were somewhere else. That fort was occupied mostly by civilian men, women, and children. The Admiral told Key that all they had to do was to take down that flag voluntarily or the British fleet would take it down. The flag never wavered and because darkness had fallen Key was unable to make his way back to shore. He was forced to watch the horror of that night unfold. The appointed time passed and the flag stood in place, the British fleet opened fire on that little fort. The prisoners in the hold wanted to know what was happening and so Key relayed the details of the night. The fleet would fire on the fort and specifically on the flag. With each wave of attack the red glare would show the flag to still stand. As the night wore on the flag wavered many times as the fleet was directly firing at the flag. The flag became more tattered as the night wore on and no one on that ship knew how that flag still stood under such a brutal and direct attack. However, the flag stood and it may have shredded and it may have wavered, but that flag never fell and no one took it down. As dawn came, the admiral did as promised and released the prisoners who headed to shore straight for Fort McHenry? The flag was still there, even though the fort itself was demolished by the brutal attack. When Key arrived at the fort, what he saw was almost beyond belief. You see the flag and its pole had suffered many direct hits and each time that the flag started to fall the men in the fort would run to hold it up. Each time that the flag was hit the men holding it would be killed and more men would run to hold it up. Eventually, the men of the fort were all dead holding onto that flag pole and the boys of the fort took their positions to see that it did not fall. That flag was held up and in place over that demolished fort by the bodies of civilian men and boys. Patriots willing to give their life so that others might live free. The Star Spangled Banner was a song written to honor their death and their sacrifice. It is a song that has honored the death and sacrifice of all who have stood for ideals of the founding fathers and the people of the Revolution. Now, over 200 years later, I sit here having a very bittersweet 4th of July. It is a sad day in our history because we have lost what was once so precious that people were willing to die for it. When Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government our new nation had, he replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." Well, infortunately we haven't kept our republic in which sovereign states worked together for a common interest. Now we have slave states dependent on a central superpower. Children in schools are no longer taught that America is a Constitutional Republic, instead they are taught that it is a Democracy. Our history has been rewritten, and our people no longer value the freedom that our founding fathers sought to give us. We are once again subjects of a tyrannical government and so many don't even know it. So on this day in which men voluntarily gave their lives for freedom, I find it sad that their descendants have allowed such a precious gift to be stolen and some even voluntarily give it away. This has been coming for a long time and little by little our freedoms have been eroded away. The Constitution that many of us hold dear is of little value in Washington anymore. The men and women of the Confederacy were the last to make a stand for that document. I know that is another story to most, but really it is the same story. Government was too big and taking too much control, many states saw it and knew it. It was the states of the Confederacy and Maryland who chose to make a stand for the founding fathers and the Constitution. This country was bought and paid for with the blood of ordinary men and women, Francis Scott Key knew this and saw it first hand. The next time any American sings the Star Spangled Banner they should remember that, and hold those ideals close to their heart. Do we truly have any patriots anymore, or are we patriots where only words are concerned? Do we have the courage that our forefathers once had, or have our numbers been diluted by the blood of cowards? Oh, say, can you see....?