Today is Flag Day in the United States, and we wore U.S. flag-like t-shirts at Disneyland today. And since it is Flag Day, I have to ask how well you know your Star-Spangled Banner verses. Here’s the first, and the first verse is usually the only one sung today.

Oh, 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:
Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

This verse ends with a question, and it leaves the fate of the brave soldiers at Fort McHenry hanging between defeat and continuing the fight. The second verse updates their status.

On that 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, now conceals, now 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; oh, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The fort didn’t surrender during that night! It stood against the foe and would not give up. And speaking of the foe, the third verse is almost never printed or sung any more. I would guess it is because this verse taunts the British foe, and we have since become friends and allies with that nation.

And where are the foes 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.

Stirring stuff, but it’s probably a good idea not to rub the British noses in their failure. Then comes the last and my favorite verse.

Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-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.

I love the first two lines, and I see how they fit our servicemen and women. The next two lines acknowledge that we were both made and preserved as a nation by the power of God. And then when our cause is just, it is our duty to conquer our foes. Our current conflict is a just one. The Islamic nutjobs who wish to take away our freedoms cannot be allowed to have their way, so we resist them. And we have been successful in preventing another major attack in almost five years. That is something well worth waving a few flags over.

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