hum in the background; barefoot kids run and squeal with excitement
as families gather around the country for their local parades and
fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations. I look forward to it
every year, especially the goose bumps that come when the local band
or station plays “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the night's
When the “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written
nearly 200 years ago, we were a nation at war. The War of 1812 — a
war we fought against the British — had been raging for more than
two years. In September 1814, Francis Scott Key watched as the
British attacked Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore. After a
night of intense bombing, he was heartened — and maybe a little
surprised — to see the U.S. flag proudly flying over the fort. Key
was so moved by the sight, he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The War of 1812 unified the country and gave Americans a sense
of pride that would help make us who we are today. And it gave us a
song that will forever recall our strength, our determination and
the fierce independence that defines us as Americans.
since that time, from the American Civil War, through the world wars
and recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the “Star-Spangled
Banner” has maintained its role as a unifier. It is also a reminder
of the country we love, the conflicts fought to preserve our freedom
and how Americans support our fighting men and women, and the
families they often leave behind.
“The Star-Spangled Banner”
doesn't just strengthen us in times of war; it carries us in times
of peace as well. It is the song many of us learned to sing during
those first few jittery days of kindergarten. As we gather to watch
our favorite sporting events, it is the song that hushes the crowd.
And it is the song often used to welcome in a new president during
the inauguration. It gives us hope in a different and better future.
It is part of the fabric of our lives and a reminder of what it
means to be American.
We all celebrate the Fourth of July in
our own special way, but we are united in our love for our country.
It serves as a reminder of the privileges and benefits we enjoy as
Americans and the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.
as we approach the 200-year anniversary of “The Star-Spangled
Banner,” take a moment to reflect on our once young, struggling
country and the song that evoked such pride in Americans — a pride
that still resonates within us 200 years later.
By Rosemary Freitas Williams
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy
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