Our national anthem…

Often in life we become so accustom to our culture we forget theUnknown value of our traditions.  Daily routines become seemingly nothing more than habit.  We participate somewhat blind to the significance of procedure until someone or something reignites our understanding.  This happened to me last night in a very significant way.

A very dear friend (who became my brother-in-law last night) rose to speak at his wedding dinner.  Among other touching comments he shared with us, he made observations of our country from his perspective; a new citizen.  His comments ignited a certain pride in me.  The type of pride that is generally created in circumstances where we become unified by common events such as in worldwide sporting competition.

One impression he shared was how touching it is for him to witness in the United States, spectators rising and covering their heart with their right hand as they sing or listen to The Star Spangled Banner.  At first I thought, really?  Then I quickly reminded myself how unusual and noteworthy this really is; especially to those who are not accustom…

Thank you for this simple reminder!  Today at a college basketball game as I stood with the crowd, I reflected more deeply on the significance of our tradition.  I reminded myself of how it must have been for Francis Scott Key to witness the American flag triumphantly flying at Fort McHenry after a night of “bombs bursting in air.”

Did you know the tradition of playing our national anthem before sporting events began during World War II?  Now we enjoy this tradition in nearly all sporting events where at least one team is from America.

It is typical that we hear only one verse, here are all four:

O 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 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?

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?
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 washed 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 freemen shall stand
Between their loved 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 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!


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