My bedroom overlooks a local public elementary school. The other day I was delayed heading off to the office and so I got to eavesdrop and listen to all the morning announcements at the school. The principal mentioned the student of the week, encouraged everyone to participate in some fund raising effort, led the kids in singing a patriotic song and then they all began to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
As I sat there in my room, I had tears running down my cheeks as I considered the power of what those kids were saying and doing. They were declaring with songs and powerful declarations that they have a deep commitment to their country and all it stands for.
Eighty years ago this week, President Hoover signed a resolution that established Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner” as our national anthem. Almost 200 years ago. Key penned the original document (entitled as “In Defense of Fort McHenry”) as a four stanza poem that was later put to music and became a popular patriotic song during the Civil War.
It seems that Key was sent to meet with some British officers on their ships as they sat in the Chesapeake Bay. He was supposed to negotiate the release of a prisoner. He apparently stayed and dined with the officers who then refused to release him. He had seen too much and could divulge their strength. So Key watched as the 50 warships shelled For McHenry for 25 hours. It is reported that nearly 2000 bombs and rockets were fired on the American troops and yet they were able to repel the British attack.
As the smoke cleared Key wrote his four stanzas of prose, the first of which we all routinely sing at moments of national pride. But the fourth stanza is also significant, and it reads in part, “Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven 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 the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Consider the preciousness of American school children repeating such powerful words and displaying such confidence in the God who is doing the blessing. And then contrast that with a recent news report of a video filmed in Pakistan showing children recreating suicide bomber attacks as a playground game (see www.dailymail.com).
“In this single-take video, the “bomber” approaches another boy, dressed in white who appears to be mimicking a member of the security forces and tries to stop him. But the young Jihadi then detonates the trigger…with other boys throwing sand into the air to create a “special effect” as if the bomb detonated.” Other children lay sprawled on the ground as if they were dead.
I certainly agree with Mr. Jafar of “Save the Children UK in Pakistan” who remarked, “It is horrifying and alarming. These children have become fascinated by bombers rather than condemning them. If they glamorize violence now, they can become part of it later in life.”
I am so very grateful to have been born into a society where children are taught to honor life and the giver of life, where children sing of their allegiance to a country that affords them precious freedoms, and where kids play all manner of imaginary games without highlighting the death of others.
This week, maybe it is a good time to be reminding ourselves…it is a true blessing to be living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel