A Brief Pause in the Dawn’s Early Light

Every school morning there’s a bit of extra traffic in front of my house. Foot traffic, bicycle traffic, car traffic. It’s spread out over forty-five minutes of drop-off time, so it doesn’t seem like that much. When that traffic clears and school starts what follows has made living so close to the school a sweet daily reminder of how charmed a life I lead.

English: Flag of the United States of America....

The American National Anthem plays on the loudspeaker system every school morning. It’s broadcast outdoors apparently, not just indoors. It’s loud enough that I can hear it inside my house.

I remember hurrying across campus at college to get inside a building before the National Anthem and flag raising started so I wouldn’t have to stop and stand with my hand over my heart, freezing, for those interminable minutes while it played. What a dweeb! I was young and shallow and clearly didn’t appreciate what that really meant. Decades later I get it and will stop and listen and pay respect with my hand over my heart.

One of the parents in the neighborhood walks his kid to school and brings the family dog along. When the anthem plays the dog “sings” along. I kid you not. The dog barks and yowls in this high-pitched singalong dog falsetto that is something crazy to behold. I like to think the dog gets it. I know that’s stretching it a bit, but it makes me smile to imagine that a dog knows what a charmed life it lives, too.

US Navy 041217-N-3236B-022 A World War II U.S....

A World War II U.S. Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, salutes the American flag during the playing of the National Anthem.

It surely makes me pause every single time I hear it. It’s not the words and it’s not the music. It’s what it represents; a daily memoir of thousands and thousands of lives shared, lived, changed and lost. Today, September 20, the third Friday in September, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Is there an appropriate way to remember and honor people like this? Gratitude for  their sacrifice, mindful of the price of the freedom I enjoy. I can start there.

The National Anthem is also a daily question: “Can you see?”

And so I ask myself. Can I see? Can I see what abundance lies before me? Can I share that somehow today?

I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant. That’s the last message I’d want to convey here. I guess I just want to acknowledge that I feel lucky, grateful, humbled. I don’t want to take any of this for granted.

I’ve included all four stanzas of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key. Read it with the tune in your head, or read it as a poem.

But please, read mindfully and see what it says to you today.

Can you see?

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O 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 thro’ 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 on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, 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 wash’d 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.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes 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 preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause 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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Categories: Gratitude, Poetry, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “A Brief Pause in the Dawn’s Early Light

  1. Leanne

    I think it’s interesting that our government is so bent on taking God out of everything, and yet, here, the 4th verse of our national anthem, speaks of God: “In God is our trust.” Francis Scott Key was inspired.

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    • I don’t think most people realize there are four verses. Surprised that someone doesn’t bring that up when the arguments start flying on the subject.

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  2. Four verses, one seems to be hard enough at the ball game. I loved reading those. In God we trust, back off everyone who wants to change that, not a good idea at all! Thanks Kami for sharing. I CAN SEE!

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