In Defense of Fort McHenry & the National Day of Prayer

I was on the internet today and found the following information from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for Kids website. With the talk I did last week about the nation’s flag, I thought it would be interesting to know “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey has said. Read On!

This Thursday, May 1, 2008, is the National Day of Prayer!

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Star Spangled Banner
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(composed by Francis Scott Key, “In Defense of Fort McHenry” in September 1814. Congress proclaimed it the U.S. National Anthem in 1931 — history follows.)
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, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ 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?
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On the shore dimly seen thro’ 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 on the stream:
‘T is the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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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 wash’d 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.
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O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us as 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!
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History: In 1814, about a week after the city of Washington had been badly burned, British troops moved up to the primary port at Baltimore Harbor in Maryland. Frances Scott Key visited the British fleet in the Harbor on September 13th to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes who had been captured during the Washington raid. The two were detained on the ship so as not to warn the Americans while the Royal Navy attempted to bombard Fort McHenry. At dawn on the 14th, Key noted that the huge American flag, which now hangs in the Smithsonian’s American History Museum, was still waving and had not been removed in defeat. The sight inspired him to write a poem entitled Defense of Fort McHenry; later the poem was set to music that had been previously composed for another song by a Mr. Smith. The end result was the inspiring song now considered the national anthem of the United States of America. It was accepted as such by public demand for the next century or so, but became even more accepted as the national anthem during the World Series of Baseball in 1917 when it was sung in honor of the brave armed forces fighting in the Great War. The World Series performance moved everyone in attendance, and after that it was repeated for every game. Finally, on March 3, 1931, the American Congress proclaimed it as the national anthem, 116 years after it was first written.
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I don’t know about you, but I wish they had left the entire song in tact. After All, that last verse really says it all. Unfortunately, just as so many other things have been randomly challenged by our seemingly Godless culture- so, too, I am sure someone would take the National Anthem to the Supreme Court should it be used in its entirety. What a beautiful testimony to God’s Sovereignty and the grace afforded this nation in battle. Written in a time when it was an honor and a duty to fight for one’s country and the freedom of others.
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What has happened to our nation? Have we become a people so jaded by our own “selfish” values that we cannot see the need to defend the rights and needs of others for that same freedom? Our nation saw that need in the early 1900s when Europe was under seige. When the nations there were vying for their national sovereignty. Our men did not hesitate to enlist and go to war against those who would threaten their European allies. The same ally who had only 100 years before tried to take our nation and burned our capital. Where is that sense of duty, that sense of patriotism? What has happened to the country that our history books have told us about and our parents remember?
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Just as God called to the Israelites through His prophets – I cry out to our nation: Turn back, turn back to the God who will preserve us and protect us. The God in whom this nation was established and the God in whom our hope, our victory and our trust must still reside!
My heart aches as the National Day of prayer approaches. I want to challenge you to go out on May 1st and join with others this Thursday as we pray for our nation, our local and state governments and the future legacy and inheritance we will leave our children. Pray for this coming election and for God’s will to be accomplished… PRAY FOR OUR NATION! Pray!
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For More Information about the National Day of Prayer, see this website: National Day of Prayer Task Force.

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