Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial DayI certainly hope you’ve all had a good Memorial Day and that everyone has enjoyed their day off! Memorial Day has largely become a day for picnics and parties, barbequing chicken and buying discounted mattresses. But it’s also a day for remembrance, a day to stop for a moment and think about the men and women who have given their lives so that we can go on living as we please. People like John Greenwood, who, at the age of sixteen, ran away from home and walked from Portland, Maine to Boston, Massachusetts so he could get into the thick of the colonies’ fight for independence. People like Dan Bullock, a fifteen-year-old who, rather than complain about the Vietnam War like a lot of teenagers, lied about his age so that he could serve in it. Our servicemen and women dedicate their whole lives to us–sometimes they even give their lives for us. The least we can do is remember them and give them the respect and admiration they are due.

I was trying to think of a poem about America that would suit the occasion when I thought, “What would be better than ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’?” This poem, written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, originally contained four verses, though all you ever hear at football games and NASCAR races is one. In fact, for the longest time, I only knew that one verse, which is a shame, because the rest of the poem is pretty fantastic as well. I especially like the last verse, but you can see for yourself:

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 through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s 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 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 the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power 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.

God bless America!

Image Credit: Viintage.com.

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