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What Does The National Anthem Mean To You?

In light of the national attention that has recently been given to the National Anthem and an individual’s right to choose whether they wish to reverence it as a gesture of remembrance and a way of honoring the many soldiers who have sacrificed their time, and in lots of cases their very lives, in the fight for our freedom, Mountain Valley News wanted to see if the children of America are being taught what the National Anthem and the American Flag really mean.

So, a visit to Plainview School was in order.  In the classroom of sixth grade teacher, Sherri Blevins, where a United States Flag was proudly displayed, at the time of our visit there was a total of twenty students.  The question was asked, “How many of you know the words to the National Anthem?  Six hands went up.  Those six students were:  Alex Gilbert, Konnor Nickelson, Sierra Bright, Abbey Hicks, Ella Timmons, and Marlee Townsend.

Because the six students named above were the only ones who admitted knowing the words to the National Anthem, they were invited to the front of the classroom for an impromptu rendition of the song, led by none other than Bonita Wilborn of the Mountain Valley News.  “As we sung the song for the other fourteen students and Mrs. Blevins, I watched the children; not only the ones still seated at their desks, but also the ones at the front of the room with me.  I am happy to report that each of the six students who raised their hands really did know the words to the song and they seemed more than happy to participate in its performance.”

When asked the question, “What Does The National Anthem Mean To You?”, the following statements were made by the six students who helped sing the song:

Alex Gilbert – “To me the National Anthem means about the brave soldiers who died for this country and the ones who have come back home.”

Konnor Nickelson – “The National Anthem to me shows the history of what all the flag has been through.  And it’s telling me how many people have fought and risked their lives to give us freedom and what we have and how good our country is and for what it has.”

Sierra Bright – “The National Anthem means to me that when the soldiers were fighting the flag still stood there after so many attacks.”

Abbey Hicks – “The Flag means to me freedom from all the wars that have ever gone and how many lives that people have lost fighting for this country.”

Ella Timmons – “To me it means freedom and that we’re free.”

Marlee Townsend – “It means freedom to me too and how many soldiers lost their lives having to fight.”

The conclusion is that the children of America are still being taught the words to the National Anthem of this great country.  They are still being taught what those words mean and what the flag stands for.  The students in the classroom knew that the 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states in the United States.  They knew that the thirteen stripes represent the original 13 colonies.  One student knew that Betsy Ross made the first flag.  And while no one could tell me that Francis Scott Key was the writer of “The Star Spangled Banner”, one did know that he was a poet.

The original title of the poem we now know as “The Star Spangled Banner” or our National Anthem was “The Defence of Fort McHenry.  It was set to an old English Gentlemen’s society tune, now recognized throughout the United States as the tune of our National Anthem.  Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.

Francis Scott Key was indeed a poet, an author, a lawyer, an American, and responsible for lots of Keys; seeing as how he fathered and raised eleven children J.

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key and Colonel John Stuart Skinner were aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant for the purpose of negotiating the release of some American prisoners, whom the British had taken captive for jailing British soldiers who were looting local farms.  During the battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry, Key and Skinner were not allowed to leave the British ship because they had become familiar with the strength and position of the British units.  Thus, Key was unable to do anything but watch the bombarding of the American forces throughout the night.  At dawn, Key was able to see that an American flag was still waving.  When Key was finally allowed to return to his home in Baltimore, he wrote the poem about his experience.

Oh, 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 rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.  Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

More than a century after its first publication the song was adopted as the American National Anthem, first in 1916 by Executive Order of President Woodrow Wilson (for military bands) and then by a Congressional Resolution in 1931 signed by President Herbert Hoover.