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The last two words aren't "Play Ball!"
Putting the events of yesterday into perspective:
One hundred and eighty-seven years ago the U.S. was under attack by a great
foreign power. The young nation had become involved in the great contest of
the superpowers of that time. Washington had been besieged; the great
symbols of the city (the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the White House)
were in flames. The invasion had moved north towards the cities of
Baltimore and beyond.
On September 13, 1814, the British began bombarding Fort McHenry, which
guarded the city of Baltimore. Under guard onboard the British flagship
were several Americans, including the young Georgetown lawyer Francis Scott
Key. Key and the others witnessed the siege of Ft. McHenry throughout the
course of that day into the night. The fort refused to surrender, and in the
rising light of September 14th Key saw the flag of the U.S. still flying.
The British abandoned the plans to take Baltimore.
As history has moved on America survived that conflict; many of the
superpowers of the Napoleonic era have became joined in their own union, and
are among the closest allies of the U.S. Key's poem, inspired by the events
of September 13-14, 1814, became the text of the National Anthem of the
United States. Some feel that that reference to rockets and bombs too
militaristic, perhaps not understanding it is a song of defiance and
determination rather than aggression. Others feel that the U.S. would be
better served by a national anthem praising the divinity. Perhaps too many
think that the song is simply an incantation sung before a ball game.
In the light of the events of September 11, 2001, it is worth remembering
the words of "The Star-Spangled Banner". They ask a series of questions.
Then, as now, the answer the last question is "Yes."
O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Department of Geology Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland College Park Scholars
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 301-405-4084 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax (Geol): 301-314-9661 Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796