Sometime ago, one of my younger cousins was working on a biography project for school and had chosen to interview me. Among the questions he asked were what my memories of 9-11. Now regardless of one’s personal views on the attacks, the War in Afghanistan or the conspiracy theories, without a doubt it is the kind of historical event that everyone who witnessed will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing. 9-11 was that for me.
I told my cousin everything I remembered from that day, but I didn’t tell him about something that happened in the days that followed. Like any American I had heard our National Anthem at the beginning of sporting events, and even performed it for the High School Pep Band, but like so many, I didn’t fully understand what it meant. I even laughed in grade school when one of my classmates would sing a parody of how a kindergartner would sing it. Fast forward to a few days after the attacks and I heard the anthem again.
For the first time in my life it brought me to tears. In my mind I could see images from the news of that day, from how peaceful and beautiful that Tuesday morning had been, to the Red of the New York City sky in the news cast, almost as though it was stained with blood. But there was another image in my mind: the image of the flag still waving as the towers went down.
In reading through the four verses of the song, and reading the story behind the song I finally could relate to just what Francis Scott Key had wrote. He was imprisoned during the War of 1812 aboard a British naval vessel and looked out at the battle of Baltimore. He had seen the smaller storm flag lowered at Fort McHenry and wouldn’t know until morning the outcome. When day broke he saw the larger American flag flying over the fort, signaling to him that America had not fallen and had won the day.
Now, when I look on that flag, I see the same thing that Key saw. The flag is a symbol of this nations strength, it’s resolve, and the richness of its diversity. It’s a symbol of the hopes and dreams of an entire nation from 1776 all the way to 2013. And as long as that flag still stands, so does it’s nation.America may be wounded it may be besieged but as long as that flag flies, it still stands. The dream is not over.
“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave. O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
-Francis Scott Key.