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Long May It Wave

As I think about Flag Day approaching (June 14, 2014), I think of how many in our great nation take for granted the loss of lives and the heroism that represents our Freedom, our Flag, our National Anthem, and our Pledge of Allegiance. This year, the Bicentennial Year of “The Star Spangled Banner,” we celebrate with parades, pledges, and in song. One of the coordinated events (singing parties) is the singing of “The National Anthem.”

The Smithsonian is hosting Washington D.C.’s premier celebration live on the National Mall. This event will be shared via a 90-minute webcast from 2:30 – 4:00 pm EDT. There will be performances of patriotic songs by America’s top artists until 4:00 pm (1:00 pm Arizona time) when thousands nationwide will join together and sing the Star Spangled Banner.  Here’s the link for additional information:

I will have the privilege of being at an Honor Flight Reunion on June 14th at the Elks Lodge, where three recent flights of WWII Veterans and their families will gather, and we will indeed be singing and celebrating together! I hope we will all celebrate on this, our “Flag Day.”

Flag at Fort McHenryAlthough we usually only sing the first “well-known” verse of “The National Anthem,” I have included all the verses written by Francis Scott Key, which began as a poem written in 1814 as he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. I get emotional every time I read the words, sing the song, and pledge my allegiance to our flag. I have seen the same response in many others. The poem/song in its entirety is this:

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 thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched 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.
Oh, 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! Oh 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!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory 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!