VFW: Forever may she wave!
On Sept. 13, 1814, a 35-year-old American lawyer, boarded the flagship of the British Fleet currently blocking Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. He wanted to obtain the release of a friend whom the British had recently arrested. The lawyer, a Francis Scott Key, was able to negotiate the freedom of his friend, but while both men were allowed to return to their own vessel, said vessel was heavily guarded and the men weren’t able to leave their ship and return to land.
The British pounded the Fort for 25 hours and that had come about only weeks after the British attacked Washington D.C., burning the Capitol, Treasury and the President’s house. It was merely another chapter in the War of 1812. On September 14, by the “dawn’s early light,” the battle was over and Key was certain the British won, but the flag flying above the fort was the American flag. He was so impressed, he immediately put his thoughts on paper to an English tune.
Key’s brother-in-law was the commander of the Fort McHenry militia and after reading Key’s work, distributed it under the name “Defence of Ft. McHenry.” The Baltimore Patriot newspaper soon printed the poem and within weeks it was renamed “The Star Spangled Banner,” forever naming the flag it celebrated. The Star Spangled Banner became our national anthem, but we only sing the first of four verses.
Our flag, being a well recognized symbol of our country, has a certain flag code regarding the proper display and usage. Our military proudly fought under the colors and even after many years of having been out of the service, continue to show a reverence for the flag they served.
At the VFW, Post 4174 in Lehigh Acres, the Captain of our Honor Guard and the Commander of the DAV held a Flag Burning ceremony to honorably retire approximately 350 flags which had been turned in to our house for the honorable and proper disposal of this great symbol of our nation. Many flags wear out after their flying in the breezes and proud waving, always on show, even in the rain. Since they’re not made of indestructible material, and need to be destroyed honorably, they are treated with respect as they are “retired” by many of the men and women who served under her colors. After the ceremony, the ashes are buried in the grounds in back of our Post.
May the Star Spangled Banner ever wave, over the land of the free and the home of the brave.