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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Happy 4th of July, ya'll.  Sometimes the celebration of a holiday becomes so routine that we forget why the tradition ever started.  This should not be one of them!  We live in a country where freedom truly means everything to us.  We, as a nation, have sacrificed sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and many other loved ones to this cause which is as much a part of our being as the heart that beats in our body.  We are Americans and proud of it! 
History Lesson: Part 1 

First 4th of July

It was in the year 1776 that representatives from the thirteen colonies met together in Philadelphia, to sign the final declaration to England of our independence. After decades of mistreatment, over taxation and living under a tyrannical government, the colonists had had enough.
They came here as British citizens and were being governed as property instead of as British citizens. They weren’t going to stand for any further abuses of power by a King and Parliament that appeared to not care for them. The early founding fathers banded together and brought arms to bear against the military of the King to drive them out of this country and back to England. By expelling the British from our shores, we became a self-ruled country.
The war waged for almost a decade to secure our freedom from the British. Often ill equipped and hungry, the revolutionary soldiers were determined that they possess a country of free men and women. Their struggles and hardships were given so that we might live in a country without the tyranny of a monarch thousands of miles away.
The fight for freedom has touched all our lives throughout the years.  My beloved brother, David, fought in a foreign country.  As a teenager, this was the most agonizing time of my life.  The evening news only intensified my fear for his safety.  It still brings tears to my eyes as I remember the raw emotion of realizing that he was on American soil again and coming home. 

Many times as I watch popular and successful entertainers on T.V. distort and forget the lyrics to our National Anthem, I just want to scream!  How can you live in a country, that has allowed you to become rich and famous, and not be respectful enough to know the words to the most important song?  Well, let me remind you how it goes.  Don't just read the words!  Feel the words! 

Here we have another history lesson (part 2), thank you very much.

 In 1813 the commander of Ft. McHenry asked for a flag so big that "the British have no trouble seeing it from a distance." He asked Mary Young Pickersgill to make the flag for him. Her thirteen year old daughter Caroline helped her. She used 400 yards of fine wool. They cut 15 stars that were two feet across. There were
8 red and 7 white stripes. The stripes were each two feet wide. When it was finished it measured 30 by 42 feet and cost $405.90.

During this time Francis Scott Key was a lawyer in Georgetown, just a few miles from Washington D.C. He and his wife Mary had 6 sons and 5 daughters.

In 1814, the British captured Washington and set the Capitol on fire. President James Madison and his wife Dolley had to leave the White House and run to a safer place.

After this attack, the Americans knew that Baltimore would be attacked next. The British had captured Mr. Key's friend. His name was William Beanes and he was a doctor. Key and another man set out to try to save Dr. Beanes' life. They told the British the doctor had helped to save British soldiers who had been wounded. They agreed to free him, but they wouldn't let them leave because the three men had overheard the British making plans to attack. So they were placed under guard on a British ship.

It was from this ship Francis Scott Key watched the bombing of Ft. McHenry. There was a lot of smoke and haze, but when daylight came, he could see the flag was still waving.

Put yourself there with Francis Scott Key when he penned these words:

The Star-Spangled Banner

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!

The flag which flew over Ft. McHenry is now at the Smithsonian in the Museum of American History. The flag is very fragile and they keep a curtain in front of it to protect it from the light and dust. They show the flag for a few moments once every hour when the museum is open to the public.
A spectacular view looking down from the ceiling of the National Museum of American History at the Star Spangled Banner and Foucault Pendulum exhibits just inside the museum's Mall entrance.

(Smithsonian photo #95-1155/4 by Eric Long)

The Star Spangled Banner, America's most famous flag and a highlight of any visit, is the flag that inspired the national anthem. The Foucault Pendulum, which seems to rotate as it swings, demonstrates the rotation of the earth.

God Bless all those who are in service to our country, at home and abroad.  Thank you from a grateful American!  God Bless all the families who love them.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  God Bless America and the freedom we represent.

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