Today marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort McHenry and the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key. Not really that long ago in my life, I would have not even noticed this date. All of our studying of history has really made me appreciate our national anthem so much more.
Reading the entire poem and not just the part we sing is definitely part of this greater appreciation. If you haven’t read the whole thing, maybe today on the 200th anniversary might be a good day. You can read the entire lyrics here.
There are four stanzas to The Star-Spangled Banner, it begins with a series of questions. I absolutely love the second question in the 2nd verse:
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
I can just imagine Key standing, watching, waiting, and wondering if our flag (and our nation) was still standing. His excitement when he first sees our flag in the early morning light can be felt in that verse.
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I am thankful for all those times in our nation’s history (and even today) when freemen stood and protected their homes, their families, and our nation, standing between “their loved home and the war’s desolation”. I’m thankful that the United States of America was founded and pray that our nation will trust in “the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” May it always be that our motto is “In God is our Trust.”
The first time I read The Star-Spangled Banner in its entirety was at my first Classical Conversations Practicum 4 summers ago. I was new to CC and really did not understand what Practicum (or the classical model of education) was all about. More than an hour each morning, we spent studying and discussing the poem by Francis Scott Key. Much of the discussion went over my head since I didn’t understand terms like grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. As the kids and I have studied history this past summer, little bits of information from that Practicum have come back to me. My little “memory pegs” from 4 summers ago have connected to more and more pieces of history.
I remember the speaker at Practicum posing this question to us, “Does the Star-Spangled Banner still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” This question has been answered in the affirmative generation after generation for the last 200 years. It is my hope and prayer that we continue to say, “yes” for many more generations to come.
(Photo Credit: Kit Hogan (my mother-in-law). Apparently, I don’t have any pictures of flags that I hadn’t used on the blog yet. Seth’s mom loves to take pictures so I knew she’d have one.)