Normally, I don't get emotional while watching things on YouTube, but I've just seen something that moved me to tears. It was a special rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner."
Before it was sung, the singer narrated its creation, how the British were to negotiate an exchange of prisoners with the Americans. The American prisoners were in cages on board the British warships. The British prisoners were in cells in Ft. McHenry. Various paintings were shown, portraying the events. But the British told the American negotiator that the deal was off. They were prepared to get their way by storming the fort. A large British fleet had amassed to force the issue, but the Americans refused to surrender. The bombardment mercilessly began, even though there were women and children in the fort. Blast after blast rocked the fort through the night.
You know how it worked out. One of the greatest moments in our history took place. In the dawn's early light, though battered and torn, hanging from a crooked flagpole, "our flag was still there." How often is that monumental moment remembered as we sing the poem written by the American negotiator, who watched it all from a British ship, Francis Scott Key?
Not many of us know that the poem goes on beyond that memorized first verse. It's important for us to reflect on the rest of the national anthem.
Once again has that flag has been battered. It's the flag that stands in front of the Senate of the United States, a flag that has been disgraced by the charade of a trial. From brave soldiers in Ft. McHenry all the way down to the present, heroes have risked their lives in defense, not just of our territory, but the very values upon which this noble nation was founded.
It has been "an impossible dream" that each generation has to ratify. The Senate has instead rat-ified that dream. It rose (or should I say slumped) in defense, not of America the Beautiful, but Trump the Un-credible.
I'm from New York City, as Trump. I know a sleazeball when I see one. Back in New York City I wouldn't buy a used car from a liar like him. Ask those who have had business dealings with Trump or got burned with his phony Trump University. No war hero he. Poor thing, he had a bone spur transplant that had to heal, which kept him home from serving his country. But it doesn't seem to hamper him these days as he bounces around the globe from Trump Tower to Trump Tower.
Hey, now, some might say. You should remember that he's president of the United States and due respect. But really he's president of 40 percent of America, the ones he constantly rallies with. The rest he slams with the most vicious mouth of any modern president. He sets the moral level of our political discourse, but you have to have a shovel to reach it. When he hopefully leaves the White House next January, they will have to fumigate the place and count the silverware. This a bit rough? Consider the target. Look at all the nasty names he uses for those in opposition to him. Presidential dignity? You'll find more of it in a presidential wax museum.
Remember, it is the sad Washington dealings that have prompted my words. But instead, let's see if, together, we might struggle back to the nobility of our Founding Fathers. Francis Scott Key had it right, especially in his last verse::
"O! 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
Over what? O'er the land for the rich and the home of the depraved? I like the original: "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Bob Schwartz, of Bakersfield, was born in New York City, but has spent most of his life in California serving as a pastor.