by Vickie Watson, Community Relations Specialist

With the impending Fourth of July holiday, my thoughts turn to what the holiday means. What is the significance? Is it a day where we grill hotdogs, eat watermelon and ice cream, and then set off a spectacular display of fireworks as the day turns into night? Perhaps. But there is SO MUCH MORE to July 4th. We are celebrating the birth of our great nation. We are celebrating the beginning of freedom for the United States of America.

When I think of the magnificent fireworks extravaganzas I have seen throughout my years, it turns my mind back to the national anthem – “The Star-Spangled Banner.” So, for a moment, if you would indulge me, I would like to review the words to that song, and really think of the significance of the meaning behind those famous words penned by Francis Scott Key all of those years ago.

The national anthem actually consists of four verses. Did you even know this? and on almost every occasion, only the first verse is sung. However, when we examine the remainder of the song, we are made keenly aware of the depth of the song. We can see the emphasis that is placed on those who fought for our freedom. For just one moment, I ask you to pause – read the chorus (or originally penned poem), in its entirety, and allow the fortitude of what it represents soak into your innermost being:

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 rockets’ 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 and 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.

Did you grasp how amazing this song truly is? Do you see the depths of the sacrifices our military makes daily for our freedoms in this great land? On this day and in the days ahead, I pay homage to every single person who is a member of our armed forces. May you ever be honored for your service to our country. For I know and understand that freedom is NEVER free! May God bless you all and may God bless America.

Independence Day