Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fostering Patriotism

Not long ago I was driving home from the grocery store and was stopped behind a vehicle at a light. The bumper sticker on the vehicle simply asked its reader if they knew the words to the American National Anthem.

So, as the light turned, I spent the drive home quizzing myself and singing our National Anthem. I somehow remember this bumper sticker every time I make that same drive home from the grocery store and have come to sing the National Anthem each week.

This got me wondering about my patriotism. I'm someone who struggles with patriotism. I'm not anti-American or anything. But I very easily slip into the error of only thinking about Washington, D.C. and politicians and lies and scandals and civil "servants" who are way overpaid and a federal government that doesn't trust any state or any person to be responsible for themselves for almost anything and bureaucracies within states that try to regulate everything they can get their hands on and disregard the primacy of the family and pretend transcendent truth doesn't exist. I all too easily see an America of massive government - one that now seeks to consider government run health care after already running education into the ground and driving the court system to insanity. Sometimes it can be hard to patriotic.

But then, at Mass, or on the message boards, I pray for or meet or read about women who are home alone handling little children like I do or more than I do all by themselves while their husband is fighting for freedom, truth, innocence, and tolerance in the name of my country, and I become ashamed and overwhelmed at how easy it is to be patriotic and proud of my country. I see Yosemite or Niagra Falls, or the Declaration of Independence or the fields of Gettysburg and it becomes easier to see the beauty of my country in her land and in her people. Then my patriotism begins shining forth. And it is truly and injustice for me to lack patriotism for the previous reasons listed when the reasons to be patriotic are so strong and so worthy. The land of the United States, the history of the United States, the people of the United States - those are worth remembering; those are worth fighting for; those are worth the effort of passing on patriotism in all its facets to my children.

So last week I bought an American Flag and an aluminum pole with a gold eagle atop from which to hang it. As soon as I can install the mounting bracket, it will be adorning our front door.

How much of the Star Spangled Banner do you know? (Check out that last stanza. Did you know the United States National Anthem was religious?)

The Star Spangled Banner

Composed by Francis Scott Key, "In Defense of Fort McHenry", September 20, 1814.
Congress proclaimed it the U.S. National Anthem in 1931.
Midi by Lesley Nelson

Oh, 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?

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:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, 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 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.

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 a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause 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!


  1. One of Isabella's favorite books right now is a picture book of The Star Spangled Banner. Yes, I even sing it, though I can't carry a tune and am way off key. She loves it anyway. It only has the first stanza, though.

  2. Melanie,

    That sounds great! Who is the illustrator?