Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Star-Spangled Banner: Lyrics & Links

The original star-spangled banner (The Smithsonian)
The Star-Spangled Banner
Lyrics by Francis Scott Key
Music by John Stafford Smith

O! 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 through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! 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, O! 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.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry 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.

The originals ...
The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC houses what remains of the original flag that Francis Scott Key saw wave in the morning light after the battle at Fort McHenry. Although the flag has been restored, it remains very fragile. Was all this damage from the battle? Yes and no. Bits and pieces of the flag were given away in the years that followed, a custom similar to people collecting bits of the Berlin Wall.

To see Key's original notes, the first published broadside of the poem, or to learn more about the events that inspired the song (Key was "a guest" on a British warship at the time he wrote it), check out this link to The Smithsonian. It is the best around. No kidding.

The National Anthem Project
Did you know people are forgetting the national anthem? Some people never even learn it. 

Early sheet music (Photo: web archive)
Perhaps you, dear reader, are asking the question why learning the anthem is important. It is a legitimate question. 

The simple answer is that anthems make community. Think of all the songs you and your friends know and love – not patriotic songs but the songs you grew up with. Think of how those songs make you feel. They have the power to remind you of your friends, of significant times in your life, and of deep feelings.

Anthems, like so many other symbols, are symbols that unite one person to another. A national anthem becomes a shared heritage that every one of us owns. 

The National Anthem Project is an effort by The National Association for Music Education to keep the anthem alive and well and includes resources for teaching the anthem.

A historic replica of the Star-Spangled Banner (

Let it fly! collects the history behind The Star-Spangled Banner and other patiotic songs. If you have stories to tell, please share them with us!

To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum

May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, 
and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, 
which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve 
to preserve freedom, and inspire 
an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance. 
~ from the Mission Statement,
9/11 Memorial & Museum

One of the bronze memorial tablets by the reflecting pool. (Photo: 9/11 Museum)

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is being dedicated this September 11, the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. On September 12, it opens to the public. Its purpose: to fight terrorism and hate through memory and education. It's a big albeit worthy goal and the website is layered with plans of all sorts: some completed, some yet to come. 

Here is a brief tour:

In remembering the victims of the attacks and honoring those who went to their rescue, the Museum will explore the very real impact of terrorism in the lives of very real people, and their families, friends, colleagues and communities. As custodian of memory, the Museum will take on the mantle of moral authority that will define its continuing and evolving role. This Museum will do nothing less than underscore the absolute illegitimacy of indiscriminate murder.

The Museum is comprised of several parts. One is in its purpose to remember the victims of the attacks on September 11 and their responders.
Lady Liberty (Photo: Bruce White©)

The second part of the museum includes artifacts from the attack, a growing photo display to include all the victims of the attack, oral histories, and a selection of related memorabilia and tributes which are stunning in their variety and moving in their simple humanity. 

The tributes range from individual tributes to community tributes, and they come from all over – from New York City as well as from cities across the United States and across the globe.

One well-known tribute is the Lady Liberty tribute, a fiber glass replica of the Statue of Liberty. She was left in front of Engine 54/ Ladder 4/ Battalion 9 the week of the attacks. The station had lost 15 first first responders. After the mysterious statue appeared (artist and origin remain unknown), small tributes started appearing on the statue: small flags, badges, patches, pictures, ribbons, hand-written notes and more.

The Lady Liberty tribute can be explored in person or online. In and of itself, it is a powerful statement about the important and cathartic place of art and that most basic human need to express oneself as well as reach out to others. To view the Lady Liberty tribute online, click here and be sure to explore the individual images you will see as they include important details about the individual tributes that decorate her.

Other tributes in the museum include the "Dear Hero" collection, a collection of thank you's from children that included art work, candy, stuffed animals and hand-written notes; a 1,000 crane quilt; a beaded flower memorial wreath; and many, many more.

To explore the museum tributes online, click here.

Another part of the museum is dedicated to education about the September 11 attacks and beyond, about terrorism and hate, about the importance of helping others, about the place art has as a cathartic response to tragedy, and, of course, how to talk to children about these topics. 

To explore some of the lesson plans and educational goals, click here.

To visit, ya gotta plan ahead ...

Touring the Museum
Given the construction going on in the area for other World Trade Center projects, a pre-booked visitor's pass is required for visiting the museum and memorial.

To reserve passes, click here:

For directions, click here:

Dedicated to memory and to life ...
The National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center will bear solemn witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. The Museum will honor the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others. It will further recognize the thousands who survived and all who demonstrated extraordinary compassion in the aftermath. Demonstrating the consequences of terrorism on individual lives and its impact on communities at the local, national, and international levels, the Museum will attest to the triumph of human dignity over human depravity and affirm an unwavering commitment to the fundamental value of human life
~ from the Mission Statement

Looking at the museum's plans to memorialize, to remember, and to educate, one song keeps running through my head: One Tribe by The Black Eyed Peas.

One tribe, ya'll.
We are one people.
Let's cast amnesia, forget about all that evil
... that evil that they feed ya.

One Tribe by The Black Eyed Peas (Video: justsayno2hate)
Well, I'm not so sure about the amnesia part as in "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." But as for the rest ...

Let it fly!

To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.