In 1814 at Fort McHenry, American men fought the second time against the British to maintain their freedom. Fort McHenry was under siege with enormous fire power of the British Navy and well trained British Army. The British had invaded America and were bearing down on the strategically located fort so they could establish an even stronger foothold in America. It looked as if Fort McHenry would not stand by morning. After a hard battle all night long many men had died. In the morning hours, a man named Francis Scott Key looked to the fort and expected a British Flag to be flying over it. Instead, he noticed through the smoky horizon that the United States Flag was still flying high. The defense of the fort held and the British was forced to withdraw.
Overcome with emotion and joy seeing the flag still flying, he wrote the poem “Star Spangled Banner”. In 1854 the Star Spangled Banner was played as a song and inspired the nation. Unfortunately, close to seven years later in 1881 the United States broke out in civil war. Almost 600,000 men from the North that were long time residents and also recent immigrants from many nations were killed, injured, or captured in an effort to fight and preserve the United States. Even my own ancestral family got off the boat from Ireland and immediately joined the Union. The United States won the war and was able to preserve the country and end the institution of slavery.
The country continued to grow and mature. Maturity came through many trials and learning experiences. There were hard issues and efforts to implement change for America. The Equal Rights movement which created equality for woman and their right to vote was significant for America. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960s resulting in African American rights and rights to vote was very significant to America to continue to mature as a nation. These were hard battles of change. Beyond the millions of men of all religions, races and nationalities that have fought under the Star Spangled Banner, there are still equal and civil rights struggles this nation works to overcome. Throughout the years of this young nation, all freedom, equality and civil rights efforts stood under the United States Flag. My own Grandpa fought in the Philippine Islands on Corregidor in the early months of World War II and saw the United States Flag lowered and desecrated and replaced with a Japanese Flag. The very feeling of the flag not flying and replaced by another nation devastated him and the few thousand American and Pilipino men that were captured that day.
All activists and hero’s stood and even died under the Star Spangled Banner. That Banner, The United States Flag, represents a nation that men and women from all races, all interests, all religions, and from all corners of the world, dreamed life could positively change for them. I have not seen any of the prominent men nor woman that has protested and have fought for their rights and freedoms use the Star Spangled Banner as a protest platform. Instead, they have stood under the flag as a proud member of a strong nation and a flag that has represented their cause and freedoms. The Banner is consecrated. Despite those that have had different interests, the United States Flag, that Star Spangled Banner, has been and still is our only foundation that has stood the test of time for positive changes for America. For that reason, in honor of those that stood before us and for what it represents, and those who will stand now and in the future, during our National Anthem, WE STAND.