Francis Scott Key witnessed a battle in 1814 during the War of 1812 as a captive on a British naval ship. He was so inspired by what he witnessed that he wrote the Star Spangled Banner which was eventually be adopted as our national anthem.
Today the song is often sung as an artistic piece in ways that ignore any patriotic meaning associated with it. It makes me wonder how many people still recognize the feelings of love for his country that Key was capturing in his poem. As I was looking at this I realized that I had never noticed the third verse – I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung.
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 wiped 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.
I suspect that Key had heard British sailors boasting that they would wipe America out of existence during that war before they began the attack. Considering the power of the British navy at that time he might well have expected them to succeed – no wonder then that he was so moved when he saw that the flag still flew over Fort McHenry after the bombardment. Personally I think that anyone who cannot recognize the power of that song and the love of country that it conveys should not bother to participate in the political process because without that love of country we are certain to make poor political decisions.