Sunday, March 25, 2012

It Still Gets Me

On Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in a huge craft and sales expo, where Fort Hood military spouses and other residents got to sell their wares, their services, and their ideas to the community.  I have to say, it was awesome.  This was their third expo, the biggest yet, and it was so neat to be able to take part in something that felt so professional and well put-together.

For me, the best part of the expo was the very beginning, where a volunteer sang the National Anthem.  Upon the first notes, voices stopped.  Bodies turned as one, and hands pressed against reverent hearts.  The room was silent, save for her lovely voice and the hope and pride she poured into these ancient lyrics.

It still gets to me.  20 years into this "Army gig," and the song still makes me cry.  There is such hope in these lyrics, such beauty in the well-sung song, and it renews my faith every time.  

When was the last time you read all the words?  I knew there were more verses, but it's been many years since I've read all of them.  They are worth sharing.  Nearly 200 years after the words were first penned, they still speak to us of dark times, fearsome enemies, and the hope and steadfast courage of our military and our people.

The Star Spangled Banner-- Francis Scott Key
(Defence of Fort McHenry)
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 rocket's 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, 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!

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! 

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