Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

I'll take my turn to editorialize. A few years ago in my church, we were having a celebration of freedom in America and they were playing the National Anthem. For some reason, I tried to put myself in the shoes of Francis Scott Key while he wrote the song.

Imagine. You're detained on a British boat in Baltimore harbor at night while your fledgling country is being attacked and invaded by the greatest power on the earth at that time. You can hear blasts and see explosions all night and you don't know what's going on.

You ask someone near sunup, thinking about seeing things were OK when the sun went down last night...

O, Say can you see

By the dawn's early light.

What so proudly we hailed

At the twilight's last gleaming.

You're worried about the flag at Fort McHenry, but you can only try to catch a glimpse over the sides of the boat every now and then because it isn't safe to put your head up.....

Whose broad stripes and bright stars

Through the perilous fight

O'er the ramparts we watched

Were so gallantly streaming.

In the darkness, you can't see if the Fort is holding or not. Every now and then when there's an explosion, it gives you a burst of light to see what's going on.....

And the rockets red glare,

The bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night

That the flag was still there!

And as long as our flag is still there, the Fort is holding and everything is OK! With the raising of the flag over Fort McHenry he knew we'd held off the Brits. Imagine the relief and joy every time Francis sees Old Glory still waving on shore.

Then, Francis Scott Key poses a question and a challenge from that boat to you and me, almost 200 years in the future......

Oh, Say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave,

Over the land of the free

And the home of the brave?

There was a time that I'd be at a ballgame and I couldn't wait for the National Anthem to be over so I could join the umpire in a hearty "Play Ball." Now, when the National Anthem is over, I'll give Francis Scott Key a quiet answer to his question: "Yes, the flag still waves over the greatest country the earth has ever known." Somehow, I think he's in a place now where what's going on here doesn't matter to him, but I'd like to think that he'd take some peace knowing everything is still OK.

That being said, I love Det. Frank Drebin as Enrico Palazzo butchering the song. While I am absolutely reverent about it at the ballpark (and think what Roseann Barr did to it absolutely sucks), I can have a good laugh at "The Naked Gun."

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