Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Monday, August 3, 2020
Oh, Say Can You See
Oh, say can you see. Francis Scott Key had no idea how prophetic those words were when he penned them as the British shelled Fort McHenry.
Oh, and what she has seen!
As an infant, finding my way, I tripped, stumbled and fell a few times but got back up. I was vilified and heckled by the crown who swore to bring me down. Betsy would have none of it and gave me life. She gave me a foundation unlike any other nation. She meticulously sewed thirteen strips of cloth and thirteen stars on a vivid backdrop of blue. She chose the colors carefully: red hardiness and valor, white, purity and innocence and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.
George and his men held me high even when the odds were stacked against him. I bled at Lexington and Bunker Hill. I froze at Valley Forge to raise flagging spirits. I proudly crossed the Delaware River. Many said I’d drown. I didn’t. I stood tall at Yorktown as a victor.
Even though we claimed victory, my countrymen became petulant and obnoxious. They denounced the President and claimed he was a king. I wept as they squabbled to find their way.
I smiled as peace was on the horizon, but storms were gathering on other frontiers. France and Spain still wanted their fair share. France needed money; Spain, territory and Texas.
I was tested again in 1812 when the Union Jack wanted one more crack. I cried as the White House burned to the ground; but didn’t bow. My countrymen united and once again repelled the invaders.
Oh say, can you see?
Once again I took a breath and added more stars. My country was growing and stabilizing, but it wouldn’t last. My Southerners hung on to chattel slavery. The tribal Indians stood in the way of expansion. Spain was running out of steam and its grip on Mexico and the Southwest. I knew nothing good would come of it; I could only watch, and wait.
Once again, my colors came under fire on April 12th, 1861 from the Stars and Bars. I tried to talk reason to my brethren to no avail. I shed a thousand tears as 600,000 paid the ultimate price for freedom, liberty and justice. When the smoke cleared, all I could see was a scarred landscape and decimated populace. My colors were soaked with the blood of my brothers and sisters. I worried the country was open for invasion from foreign powers. Would we be able to mend the ills and wrongs of the past?
Oh, say, can you see?
Like any proud mother, I loved and cherished my children, yet, doesn’t mean I approved of all of their decisions. The eviction and moving of the indigenous people saddened me. They were here long before we came to the New World. I believed they could have lived in harmony; I was wrong.
I stood strong as my country grew and more stars adorned my field. I watched with great interest as the country grew and expanded westward, filling me with pride.
I was amazed at the industrial might the country was turning into. A once agrarian land was becoming a beacon of industrial revolution. I did not approve of children being forced to work, but hoped they would identify the error of their ways and correct it in time.
I was called again to a land I never dreamed of helping. I didn’t worry about past differences; I answered the call to make sure my distant countrymen and their allies prevailed. I bled more at Argonne, Bella Wood and Flanders. My children fought bravely and valiantly protecting those who needed the help.
I shed more tears while my colors were held high and true.
Perhaps now I can rest and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
O, say, can you see?
Prosperity exploded. My country grew. I swelled with pride. Instead of getting a breather, my county collapsed overnight. It was a war no one saw coming. It threw my contrymen into turmoil, despair and poverty. Instead of bullets and bombs claiming lives, it was bad finances, drought and dust that brought them down. I watched as fortunes vanished, suicides increased, families were displaced and pestilence filled the land. I questioned if they were strong enough to withstand the onslaught of an unknown future. I swung in the wind limply looking for direction.
My answer came with a catastrophic event many knew was coming but few were prepared. I frantically waved a warning as a swarm of planes. Displaying the Rising Sun, descended on Pearl Harbor. While my warning was too late, the response was phenomenal. The surprise attack awakened a passion and determination I thought was long lost. They became angry, united and filled with an uncontrollable vengeance. United, we learned the names of Coral sea, Midway, Kasserine Pass, Palermo, Messina, Normandy, Bastogne, Arnhem, Peleliu, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. I was filled with holes, disappeared beneath the waves drowned in wells, fell from the heavens and trampled by treads. But I did not yield. I stood tall in the face of tyranny and crushed the oppressors bent on world domination. The victory was short lived. I would learn new names, Pusan, Seoul, Wusan, Inchon and Chosin. Again, my people died for those who couldn’t defend themselves. I took a breather hoping this would be the last one.
I hoped the country would get a reprieve and heal. It did not happen. A new threat emerged bearing a hammer and sickle. I braced for the worse. The thought of nuclear annihilation was a real threat. I feared my children would become irrational. They didn’t. I took a deep sigh of relief as cooler, wiser heads prevailed and we all didn’t vaporize into a cloud of dust.
Oh, say, can you see?
In ten years, I would once again find myself in a strange country and customs I didn’t understand. I couldn’t say no when the call came and my children answered the call. I questioned the reasons and the plan. I could only hope my children would make wise decisions and not soak me in blood again. I was wrong as tens of thousands of my most cherished ones, the young, died on fields and jungles even I didn’t know: Tonkin Bay, IA Drang, Saigon, Kaison and Hanoi. This was different. In the past I watched my children band together and make a stand for righteousness. Yet, while they bled in the jungles, those back home rose up against me demanding change. They burned me, cursed me, ripped me, threw away medals and denounced all I stood for. How could this happen? What had I done to deserve such animosity? There was also the unrest for a forgotten people. They help build the country with the sweat of their brows. They were sold and traded like livestock. I knew the day would come when they would gain a voice and be counted. That day had come. I knew not which way to look. Never had I seen my country involved in three conflicts at the same time. What could I do? Pray, that wiser heads would prevail and heal a fractured country, again.
I cried when my children returned home from a war too many had turned against. Instead of welcoming them with my flowing colors, they were spit on and condemned for protecting me. It was one of my darkest days. The rift was giant and only inflamed when corruption poured forth from the government. How could they be so stupid? I could only watch and weep in disbelief and ask, “Where did I go wrong?’
It would be decades before I flew proudly again.
The call for help came from the Middle East, another place I was familiar with only in name. My children rallied to the cause and defeated the foe in record time. My banner flew high and filled the country with pride and worth. Again, it wouldn’t last. In ten years, I would realize the horrors of war I hadn’t seen in sixty years. Again, the enemy came from the skies using our own planes in an effort to bring us to our knees. The result was just the opposite. As in 1941, my children were filled with a terrible resolve and took the fight where the enemy lived. I hailed the initial results. “These are my children at their best.” And then it changed as leaders muddled and squabbled over issues of non-consequence. Were they going to repeat the same mistakes only a short forty years ago? I could not bear watching my youth perish in a forgotten war, again! It would be too much. Somehow, the lessons of the past were learned and my children stayed united and welcomed home their heroes and loved ones.
I prayed my children could finally come together again and work for the greater good. I was wrong. May 25th, 2020 would rock my country more dramatically than 7-4-1776, 6-18-1812, 12-7-1941 and 9-11-2001. At first, I saw a just cause and demanded those involved be prosecuted. It was a righteous cause. In the blink of an eye, it all changed. This wasn’t the protests for Civil Rights or the removal of troops from a foreign country. This was war on my own soil and not a shot had been fired. I watched in horror as my cities were ransacked and burned. Hundreds were injured, scores were killed. Local governments were not immune; the violence came to them at their homes. Law and order collapsed, or were ordered to stand down. It was the one time I wished I could take a human form and ask, “What in the hell are you all doing? We have fought ten major wars and countless small ones. We have vanquished tyranny when it raised its ugly head. We have overcome civil strife, a pandemic, and a depression. We have learned how to compromise and move forward. It hasn’t always been easy but we continued to persevere through it all. Together, we’ve stumbled, fallen, been knocked down, attacked, slandered, hated, ridiculed, but still, we found a way to stand as one. Today, in my short two hundred and forty-four years, I find myself questioning the ability and temerity of our ability to heal. Never has the divide been so great. Never has so much anger been thrust upon my streets with unequivocal violence and rage Until today, I never questioned our ability to unite and come together. Never did I lose hope in our goal and mission as a beacon of truth and hope for those to admire, until today. It is up to you and only you to address the issues at hand and like your forefathers, who were faced with similar problems, it is time to end the divisiveness that is plaguing my landscape, from sea to shining sea. The chants of we’re right and you’re wrong are fruitless at best. It is difficult to hear when everyone is yelling and no one is listening. It is time to stop being children and become adults. I have been patient and understanding in my short existence. My colors are soaked with the blood of over one point three million lives. I have wept for the one point four million who returned, burned, broken and battered. Tell me, honestly, it wasn’t all in vain. Tell me, that the widows, widowers spouses cried for nothing. Tell me that the fatherless and motherless children who stare at the flag, that covered their casket, wasn’t for a worthy cause. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me there is hope. Tell me you will work this out without tearing each other apart. Please, tell me, all the sacrifices weren’t in vain. Please, tell me.”
OH, SAY, CAN YOU SEE?
Copyright@2020by: LDDJ Enterprises Publishing.