From our esteemed warriors at the Constitutional Freedom Party (@CFP4US)
When I think of Independence Day, I actually think not of a day in July, but a night in September, about 40 years after America’s Independence was first won. After the Battle of Trafalgar, against the French, Britain controlled the oceans, and many American sailors were being taken prisoner and forced to serve aboard British ships. Britain controlled Canada as well, was building up forces in Upper Canada, and Americans were beginning to feel threatened.
Growing up in Canada, I learned the history behind the War of 1812 from the British/Canadian perspective- and except for a lesson or two, about the British march on Washington and setting the new Capital to flames; little was taught about the American involvement except to show them as the aggressors.
War had come, and the American Army fighting in the nation’s capital was unprepared, as Madison did not believe British forces would dare invade. One man, a Lieutenant in the American Army did not want to go to war, but he knew it was necessary to defend the freedom and liberty that others had fought for and won not so long ago.
The Lieutenant received news that a family friend had been captured by the British and was being held on a ship somewhere in the Chesapeake. He quickly obtained permission from President Madison to try and gain the friend’s release, as the man was a well-known doctor. He soon was headed for Baltimore.
The city had been busy preparing for war as they knew the British fleet would soon dominate the Bay. Fort McHenry had also been prepared with canons and munitions. They waited as a sentinel at the entrance to the harbor, knowing that soon they would be all that stood between their city and the enemy. The Lieutenant armed with letters signed by British soldiers which testified to the kindness of the Doctor, sailed aboard the American ship, the Minden, out of the harbor. He happened to look at the Fort, and marveled at the sight of the huge banner flying proudly. The flag, measuring thirty by forty two feet was made specifically so the British would see it long before coming into the Chesapeake Bay.
The men aboard the Minden saw no ships until the second day when the lookout shouted, “British ships ahoy!” Approximately 40 British ships were heading their way, so they hoisted the truce flag. Soon, a British battleship drew alongside and the Lieutenant along with a couple of others was invited aboard where negotiations for the Doctor’s release soon began. There was much activity aboard the ship; and soon the Doctor was given permission to leave. The Americans were informed that they could return to their ship, but the Minden would not be permitted to leave the company of the British fleet, for they were headed for battle. The Americans were incensed as there was nothing they could do but watch as their nation was attacked.
The Lieutenant, restless and frustrated, paced along the deck that night and watched as the British fleet formed ranks around the Fort. As canons blasted from the ships, it was clear that the Fort was woefully outgunned. Smoke lay heavy as the battle raged on. The Lieutenant, Francis Scott Key, strained to see if the flag still flew above the Fort. He knew that if the flag still waved, the Americans would not give up.
Soon the smoke was too thick to catch even a glimpse of the flag. Francis Key took out a scrap piece of an envelope from his coat pocket and began to write thoughts about his country, a land of free and brave people, and the flag which came to be a symbol of strength, courage and liberty. Soon it began to rain, and the British fleet moved in. The guns from the Fort came alive and more smoke and deafening booms filled the night as the sky lit up in flashes of red and white.
As suddenly as it had started, the canons quieted. The men knew they would have to wait for sunrise to see if the flag still flew. The hours snuck by seemingly endless and then finally, dawn broke. Francis Key began to write again, more of what he saw by dawn’s early light as the smoke and fog began to fade.
I can see it! The Flag! Our Flag! It is still there! Our beloved red, white and blue. May God be praised.
Within hours, Key finished his poem in the room of a Baltimore Inn, the British fleet gone as they knew they were defeated as the Americans had not given up. Francis Scott Key wrote what he had originally called, “The Defense of Fort McHenry” so others would always know of the brave men who had given their lives for their country and their flag.
The failed attack by the largest Empire of the time, on a single Fort in Baltimore signaled the end of British raids on America. America, the fledgling nation looked into the mouth of the Lion again, and had come through to claim victory and freedom. True Independence. This nation has come through many trials and perilous times, not always victorious, but always standing strong.
I think of this story every 4th of July, because Independence means so much more than a one day event and celebration. It is the brave, courageous, the determination and tenacity of those who fought that September night, and the symbolism of Key’s words in what has become our Nation’s anthem which shows the spirit of Independence. It is the same spirit which lies deep in the heart of many of us still.
On this Independence Day, our nation is in peril, only it is the enemy within as well as without which is our generation’s fight. I would encourage people to think of the men at Fort McHenry, those who have fought since, and those who still fight for our freedoms today. We have perhaps here at home, the most important battle since the founding of our nation. Will the blood and pain of all be in vain if we allow the liberties they fought for to be taken? Or will we prepare to preserve and gain them back, to save them for those who gave them to us?
O’ thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r 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!
Click here and listen to and read the words of our entire National Anthem.
Independence Is Forever – In Memory and To Honor
September 11, 2001