As Independence Day celebrations go on throughout the country, many events will include the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Most of us know the first stanza of our national anthem, and many may know the second verse. In actuality, though, there are four stanzas to the song and it’s the last that holds particular significance for me this Fourth of July holiday.
Scott Francis Key, who penned the anthem in 1814, concludes with these words:
Oh! Thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the wars desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that had 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
Oer the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Key’s lyrics remind us of the basic tenets upon which our country was founded: freedom, equality, a strong moral compass guiding a new and growing nation, deep faith and the freedom to express that faith proudly and without fear of repercussion.
His words also remind us today of the many wars our men and women have fought over the centuries, throughout the world, to safeguard our freedoms and to defend the weak and liberate the oppressed. Guided by faith and a sense of duty to conquer when the cause is just, we remain one of the world’s great superpowers because of a deeply-held belief that good will ultimately prevail over evil, thereby ensuring not only a better life for others but reinforcing our cherished freedoms.
Key also draws a stark contrast between the safe haven of a soldier’s home and the destruction of war, reminding us of the personal sacrifices that our military personnel make. It also reminds us that, if not for the bravery of our armed forces, our burgeoning nation could have been quickly destroyed; not the heaven rescued land of which he writes.
This holiday weekend, I ask you to take a moment to savor the many blessings that we, as Americans, enjoy, to keep our military in your thoughts, and to thank veterans or presently enlisted people you might meet in your travels this week.
Best wishes for a safe and happy Fourth of July.