Posted in patriotism, photography

O’er the ramparts

blogIMG_8001It’s August. The 4th of July is over, Flag Day (June 14) is long past, and Memorial Day an even more distant memory but the American flag still flies from our front porch.

Some folks only display our country’s red, white, and blue on those holidays with maybe Veteran’s Day tossed in. But at our house, the flag waves from its post yearlong.

I can’t remember exactly when Papa and I decided Ol’ Glory should always remain outside our home come whatever season, whatever weather, day or night, but I know we’ve already worn out one flag and put it to rest as custom and respect dictates.

Our flag flying might be attributed to the fact that my husband is a military veteran and our family is proud and thankful for his service to our country and that flag.  Or it may also be attributed to the history buffs in our family – namely Papa and Middle Daughter.

In any case, we’re a grand old flag flying family. A few years ago, our family’s Australian friends came to the United States to visit and as they traveled around the country, they kept track of how many American flags they spotted flapping in the breeze.  They were surprised as the number increased significantly on their journey and I can only deduce that they don’t see Australian flags in abundance in their own country.

All of these thoughts meander through my mind since one of the stops we made on our week-long venture from home in June was Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland If you’re not familiar with this historical site, during the War of 1812, American soldiers at this coastal fort successfully defended Baltimore Harbor in the Chesapeake Bay from the British navy. 

After the battle finally ended, a large American flag was raised over the fort demonstrating British defeat and American perseverance.

Watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a truce ship in the nearby Patapsco River, Frances Scott Key witnessed the flag hoisted into the air and was inspired to write a lengthy poem about the red, white, and blue. Eventually that first verse of his poem became the familiar lyrics to our American national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.  To read the poem in its entirety, click here.

blogIMG_7992It was a misty, slightly rainy morning as we toured this national park/monument and yet our country’s flag waved overhead.  We shared our time with a few busloads of elementary-aged school children on one of those end-of-the-year field trips and it was tricky to snap photos without getting the students in view.

But amidst all the running and climbing and yelling performed by the children, Papa and I managed to enjoy our tour. We walked around the parameter of the pentagonal-shaped fort, o’er the ramparts, so to speak.

We found a few serene moments just gazing out at the Chesapeake Bay and imagining a fierce battle taking place all those many years ago. And I felt awe and respect for that American spirit of battling for freedom and what is right that those who fought on that ground had done.

But the best part of all for me, the most awe-inspiring moment of the morning, was inside the visitor center. We rested on benches in a small, darkened theater-like area watching a short documentary video detailing the battle at Fort McHenry and the story behind Frances Scott Key witnessing the grand ol’ flag still flying.

At the end of the video, the Star Spangled Banner began to play. Each person stood in respect; some of us placed our hands over our hearts as we listened to those old words that most Americans know by heart.

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming!
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through 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?

As we faced the large screen where the video had informed us and listened to our national anthem playing, the screen lifted up into the ceiling and in its place, we faced an entire wall of large, floor to ceiling plate glass windows…overlooking outside where the American flag proudly waved.

I was too awe-struck to even pull my camera up to my eye and snap a photo.

Call me sentimental. Call me patriotic. Call me proud to be an American. Call me however you wish to categorize me, but the sight choked me up and tears overflowed as I listened to those words and music while gazing at my country’s symbol of freedom.

It was a moment I won’t soon forget. We may have our struggles in this country. We may not all see eye to eye on a variety of issues. We have our virtues and we have our faults.

But I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but this land, the land of the free and the home of the brave. America, God shed His grace on thee.

“There is nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed with what is right in America.” ~ former President Bill Clinton in his first inaugural address, 1992




Posted in Independence Day, photography

Be still…and celebrate freedom

Relaxing on vacation with Papa proved to be one of the highlights of my time of just being still during my month-long blogging break. 

That week away from the routine of home provided just the tonic I needed to fuel my writing inspiration again so after I’m finished with my be still series, I’ll be putting more words to my vacation photos and sharing some fun experiences here.

But as part of my be still series, I found this photo I snapped aboard one of the bay cruises we enjoyed on vacation to be most appropriate for this Independence Day today. Soaking up the sunshine, relishing the cool breeze, enjoying the sea air and sights while hearing our flag flapping in the wind was a lovely way of being still.

While we celebrate the 4th of July today with picnics; family and friends gatherings; red, white, and blue decorations; parades; and fireworks displays, let’s not forget to pause, take a moment to give thanks for our freedoms here in America, and salute Old Glory.

With hand on heart, let’s remember these words:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

On this very day, we commemorate the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress in 1776. That document gave our forefathers reason to fight and die for the freedoms we now enjoy 243 years later.

Let’s also remember to take a moment, be still, and pray for this great country of ours to remain indivisible despite our differences and to continue to provide liberty and justice for all.

God, bless America!

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14, King James Version (KJV)


Posted in veterans

Giving honor where honor is due

blog8115This flag waves and unfurls itself in the wind as it flies outside the home of an American patriot.

This flag is displayed every day of the year, not just on holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July, or Veteran’s Day.

This flag represents not just this great country but all those who have protected it, guarded it, and in many cases, given their lives for it.

This flag proudly hangs from my front porch because my husband is a veteran of U.S. military service.

My husband did not fight in a war during his time in the military, but he most ardently would have given his all for his country had he been given the opportunity to do so.

He is a keen student of history and he strongly believes in the premises this country was founded upon.  He is proud to be an American veteran, and my post today honors him and all those who have served our country.

When I was a youngster, one aspect that denoted Veteran’s Day was the wearing of a red artificial poppy on your lapel.  I remember veterans handed these small brilliantly colored flowers out from the street corners of my hometown.  We wore them proudly to show our support of these brave souls and those who gave their lives to protect our freedom.

Another remembrance of Veteran’s Day, which was also called Armistice Day, was learning and reciting in our school classrooms this well-known poem written during World War I.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

   “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow

    Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place;  and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead, short days ago,

    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

    In Flanders fields!

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:

    To you from failing hands, we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die

    In Flanders fields!”

blogDSCN8114Today, Chapter 11, Page 11, in my book called Opportunity, I don’t have a red poppy to wear on my shirt.

But this flag, which adorns my home, and my voice in this blog can honor my husband and his fellow servicemen and women.

Thank you to all our veterans for serving our country and keeping us free.  We owe everything we have to you.  May God bless you and hold you safely in the palm of His hand.

“But the freedom that they fought for, and the country grand they wrought for, Is their monument today, and for aye.” ~ Thomas Dunn English