Here in the U.S. we are observing 235 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Yesterday, my pastor shared a quote from John Adams (statesman, diplomat, patriot, signer of the Constitution, who, btw, died on July 4, 1826!) “Independence Day…ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”
On this day there will no doubt also be repeated singings of The Star-Spangled Banner, written by a young attorney in 1814, and later adopted as our national anthem in 1931. Francis Scott Key sailed down from Washington, after the city was captured and the White House burned to the ground, on a British vessel to secure the release of a prisoner of war. Key was detained on board ship until the bombardment of Ft. McHenry was completed. Throughout the rainy night, and in the light of dawn, Key, and eventually an entire nation, was inspired that the battered flag was still there – Baltimore had not been captured.
Key’s second verse praises “the Power that made us and preserved us a nation,” and proclaims that, with this as our motto “in God is our trust!, the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
There are some in this country who want to change our national anthem to America the Beautiful, which is vastly easier to sing and invokes the blessing of “God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” Others, especially since 9/11, prefer God Bless America.
I can see the merits of each, but before we wave goodbye to the Star-Spangled Banner, here are a few selling points for the Thinking Christian Woman to consider:
- It’s difficult to sing – freedom doesn’t come easy.
- It’s violent and edgy – our freedom, both as a nation and as Christians, was won in a perilous fight through struggle and sacrifice (if we want to do away with the Star-Spangled Banner, we might as well tear all of the bloody cross songs from our hymnbooks too)
- It proclaims our national identity – telling the world that this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.
- It tells an important story – reminding us that, many times, our attempts to establish this new nation hung by a thread. There were countless setbacks, but we never gave up on our vision. The lively knowledge of victories of the past brings a wisdom and courage to overcome challenges of today.
In 1931, the great march composer John Philip Sousa wrote in favor of the Star-Spangled Banner as our national anthem saying, “it is the spirit of the music that inspires as much as it is Key’s soul-stirring words.”
I support the Star-Spangled Banner forever waving as the national anthem over the land of the free and the home of the brave because it is difficult and edgy, and because it identifies us and tells our story.
blog title by Sara B. Clarke
© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved