The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Cherished Words "Land of The Free"

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

June 10, 2009

We are coming upon Flag Day Sunday, June 14th and Father's Day June 21st, and we are right in the middle of baseball season - where every game begins with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. It's all connected to our rich heritage we each have here in America.

Of all the many cherished English words expressed by so many of our forefathers who fought to preserve this sacred American Flag I believe "The Star Spangled Banner" says it best in reminding us of the great privileges we have and great sacrifices made to preserve our freedom to enjoy baseball time with family, and the many, many other things we have each day.

The national anthem was penned by poet Sir Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombing of Fort McHenry in Chesapeake Bay in the War of 1812.

Key had witnessed the bombardment during the rainy night of Sept. 3, 1814 and noticed the tattered storm flag still flying. Only at dawn after the shells and rockets had stopped did he find out the outcome, as the tattered small flag was lowered and larger American flag was raised.

He was so moved by the sight of that 15 stars and fifteen stripped flag waving triumphantly above the fort that he wrote the beginning of what ended a four verse poem on the back of a letter he had in his pocket. He entitled it Defence of Fort McHenry. He gave it to his brother-in-law Judge Joseph H. Nicholson who saw the words fit a popular drinking melody composed by John Stafford Smith, for a gentlemen's club in London. Nicholson had Keys words first printed on September 17, 1814.

Although Woodrow Wilson in 1916 ordered the song played at military and other appropriate occasions, it was not until March 3, 1931 that President Herbert Hoover signed a law adopting "The Star Spangled Banner" and Key's words as the official national anthem of the U.S.

Singers have described the song as one of the most difficult to perform, yet one they were most privileged to sing.

Providing I am not irritated by a disrespectful presentation, it's at an open aired field of a baseball game that moves me so, as it did at Candlestick Park the evening Daniel Rodriguez of the NYPD gave his heartfelt cappella performance at the Yankees first game after 9-11, soothing a troubled nation. May Keys words continue to drive Americans crazy as the high note "land of the Free" is reached, and stir our emotions as we sing, "home of the brave." God bless America.