Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Frank Drevin (a.k.a. Enrico Pallazo) on the Star Spangled Banner

As we celebrate the bicentenary of Francis Scott Keys penning "The Star Spangled Banner",  the Naked Gun movie comedic crooning ought to shame celebrities to learn the lyrics to the patriotic poem set to a period drinking song. 

There are too many examples of hyped singers who flub the lines to the National Anthem at sporting events, either through ignorance or intentionally, and show disrespect to honoring America.  That being said, it helps when the accompanist plays the right national anthem.

Singing "The Star Spangled Banner", which Congress designated as America's National Anthem in 1931, did not began a tradition at pro baseball games until 1942.  It is estimated that in the major leagues, the National Anthem has been heard before the first pitch at 121,000 games.   


For those of us to struggle to keep on Key, lyrically and aesthetically, it is worth being reminded of the meaning behind the text.  The lyrics were based on "The Defense of Fort McHenry" after a sustained bombardment of Baltimore during the war of 1812.  Francis Scott Key was an accomplished attorney who was negotiating for the release of Dr. William Beanes held prisoner by the British after the Battle of Bladensburg.  The British detained  Keys as a diplomat on a prison ship while the Royal Armada bombed Baltimore Harbor.  After a night's bombardment, Francis Scott Key looked to Fort McHenry and saw the Stars and Stripes flying, demonstrating that American freedom had survived.

There are four verses to the National Anthem, though sports fans are only familiar with the first verse. In case one needs a refresher, here are the real lyrics:

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 thru 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?

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! Oh 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!

Oh! 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
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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