Heav’n-rescued Land on 4th of July
Betty Mason Arthurs
America is the “land of the free and the home of the brave” as sung in The Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem. But do we know the second verse?
“O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory 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’re the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
Francis Scott Key penned the opening words to this anthem on the back of a letter while pacing the deck of a ship in the Baltimore Harbor. It was the war of 1812 when British ships were bombarding Fort McHenry. All through the night the battle raged and at dawn, Francis saw that the victorious American flag still flew over the fort. The flag, given to Fort McHenry by a Mrs. Sanderson, is still on display in her museum home in Baltimore, Maryland and the city erected a magnificent statue in honor of Francis Scott Key.
Our patriotic hymn was adopted and declared to be our national anthem by Congress on March 3, 1931.
America is a vast land and has many different cultures. And all across our country in May or June, high school seniors graduate, ready to launch into adulthood. Last month we attended our grandson’s high school graduation in Flagstaff, Arizona. Once again I was reminded of the blessing of living among a variety of cultures. The ceremony held in Northern Arizona University’s J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome opened with the processional, Pomp & Circumstance, as the 300 graduates walked to their places. Then the choir sang our National Anthem, a tradition which always brings me to tears. We heard welcomes from students in English, Spanish, Navajo and Hopi. Some of the young women graduates wore Native American dress beneath their robes along with moccasins. Female Muslim graduates wore scarves wrapped around their heads. Last names I never heard of before were listed in the program. Students going into the military were acknowledged. Truly this was a mix of Americans, celebrating together the success of our young people
The words to the Flagstaff High School alma mater, “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters,” written by Theodora Brown in 1930 ring true today:
At the foot of ‘Frisco Mountain,
Under skies of blue,
Stands our noble Alma Mater
Glorious to view.
Lest her praises be forgotten,
Sing them to the sky;
Hail, to thee, our Alma Mater
Hail, dear Flagstaff High.
And no matter where we wander,
Or what life may bring,
We will always love you, Flagstaff,
Loud your praises sing.
It’s a privilege to be in a nation of so many diverse people who love our country.
Once again this July 4th, let’s praise God for he has made and preserved us a nation. We are a “heav’n rescued land.” Let’s also pray for our country and the world.