Tag Archives: Patriotism

The Star Spangled Banner

On September 13, 1814, 35-year-old Georgetown lawyer and amateur poet Frances Scott Key boarded a flag-of-truce vessel in Baltimore harbor to negotiate the release of a detained American physician.  However, as the British attacks on Baltimore and Fort McHenry were imminent, they detained Key to prevent him from revealing details of their preparations.  On the evening of September 13th to the early morning of the 14th he had a “sweeping” view of the battle from the British warship.

Bombardment of Fort Henry 1814

That morning, “By the dawn’s early light,” Key could see the  torn, singed, and shell-shot flag still flying above the walls of the defending fort.  Inspired by what he was witnessing, Key scribbled the first verses of his poem onto the back of a letter in his pocket.  Upon returning to Baltimore on the 16th, he completed the poem in his room at the Indian Queen hotel and titled the work the “Defence of Fort McHenry”.  After having it printed in broadsheet form, the piece became an instant hit.  Over a dozen newspapers from Georgia to New Hampshire reprinted it.

Defence of Fort McHenry Broadside 1814

Key and his brother-in-law had put the poem together with the melody of an existing song called “The Anacreontic Song” by English composer John Stafford Smith.  Soon after, Thomas Carr of the Carr Music Store in Baltimore published the words and music together under a new title – “The Star-Spangled Banner”.   The song was performed in public for the first time in October by Baltimore actor Ferdinand Durang at Captain McCauley’s tavern.  The popularity of the piece grew to become a runaway success.

At this time, America had no national anthem.  At official functions, “Hail, Columbia” was played while “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” served as a default anthem.  With it’s rising popularity, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was frequently played at patriotic events such as July 4th.

At the start of the American Civil War, physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. added a fifth stanza to the song. It expressed his outrage over secession and his support of the Union.   His son, future Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., had enlisted for the Union and would be wounded in battle 3 times.

When our land is illumined with liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strikes a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that tries to defile
The flag of the stars, and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained,
Who their birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave,
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

 In 1889,the Secretary of the Navy signed General Order #374, making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official music to be played at the raising of the flag.  In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that “The Star-Spangled Banner” be played at appropriate government and military occasions.  He also ordered the Bureau of Education develop a singular, standard version.  Five eminent musicians were enlisted to agree upon an arrangement – among them the famous composer and band leader John Phillip Souza.  However, in 1929 Robert Ripley observed in his syndicated cartoon “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” that America still had no official national anthem.  This led to President Herbert Hoover signing a law March 3, 1931 adopting “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States of America.

When the national anthem is played, United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301 states:

Conduct During Playing.— During a rendition of the national anthem—

(1) when the flag is displayed—

(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;

 (B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and

 (C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and

 (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

To learn more you should visit the Smithsonian Institution’s online Star-Spangled Banner exhibition covering the history of the flag and the song.  There is also a great video by David Barton of Wallbuilders.  It is short but very thorough.

The star-spangled banner itself is 30-by-34-foot flag and is the largest battle flag in existence.   The flag that survived a night of rocket attacks and artillery shelling is currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Star Spangled Banner-1914 centennial-display

A few different renditions of the American national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”:

A Vietnamese Immigrant Speaks

From my inbox – thanks Ed.

On Saturday, July 24th, 2010 the town of Prescott Valley, AZ , hosted a Freedom Rally. Quang Nguyen was asked to speak on his experience of coming to America and what it means. He spoke the following in dedication to all Vietnam Veterans. Thought you might enjoy hearing what he had to say:

35 years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I’d laugh at you. Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth.

I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I’d rather speak to you as an American.

If you hadn’t noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people. I am a proud US citizen, and here is my proof. It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it, and I am very proud of it.

I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy could remember anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers; 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.

35 years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the US. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California. It was a miracle from God.

If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you right now, it is. It was the freedom and opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me I could not make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see, all you had to do was give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take, and run with it. Well, I took the opportunity, and here I am.

This person standing before you tonight could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here. And if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head. That was my experience.

In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as a true American. To this day, I can’t remember anything sweeter or more patriotic than that moment in my life.

Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year old kid, I was having a great time with my life. I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In some way and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here.

One day, I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I don’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said, yes. I shook and held his hand. The grown man began to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked. This was a profound moment in my life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.

You see, America is not just a place on the map, it isn’t just a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must accept this concept, and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom, not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here tonight.

Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages – last I looked on the Internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the US Constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.

Before I knew this 46-page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names inscribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.

At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today. I now ask all veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand. On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your services and may God bless you all.


Quang Nguyen
Creative Director/Founder
Caddis Advertising, LLC
“God Bless America”

Quotes For Life – #0001

If you’ve read here long, you know that I have an eclectic taste in reading materials.  I scan and scour everything from political theory and history to cookbooks and the Sunday funny pages.  As I go, I look for the gems; the core idea that the author used hundred of pages to reveal.  I often leave an index card in the book that might list a couple important pages or passages I can quickly refer back to.  Sometimes it comes down to just a quote.

So, I’m going start sharing some famous and not-so-famous quotes here.  For now, this won’t be a daily item per se.  I’d just like to share a few of the gems I have uncovered in my studies.  If you have questions, or better yet a suggestion, please drop me a note.


mark twain on patriotism and government

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. – Mark Twain

Abridged modern version from speech of Tsar Nicholas II in Mark Twain’s The Czar’s Soliloquy, 1905


Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776

Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776


In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

View the full text here…

A Soldier’s Christmas Wish

Let’s never forget those whose sacrifices make us free and able to celebrate and worship as we please in this holiday season as well as the rest of the year. Published in the Magic City Morning Star December 24, 2009, this work really captures the feeling.  Transcript is posted below the video.

This poem was written by an Australian Peacekeeping stationed overseas. His request, send this to as many people as you can.  Credit is due to all of the service men and women for our being able to celebrate Christmas.  Let’s try to pay a bit of what we owe to these heroes.

Soldier’s Christmas Wish

By Unknown Original Author
T’was the night before Christmas, He lived all alone
In a one bedroom house, made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give,
And to see just who, in this home, did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, Not even a tree.
No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures, of far distant lands.
With medals and badges, Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought, came through my mind.
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping, Silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor, in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in disorder,
Not how I pictured, (A United States) Soldier.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
I realised the families, that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers, who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate, a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder, How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
The very thought brought, a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees, and started to cry.
The soldier awakened, and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, This life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
My life is my God, My country, my corps.”
The soldier rolled over, and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, So silent and still,
And we both shivered, from the cold night’s chill.
I did not want to leave, on that cold, dark, night,
This guardian of honour, So willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over, With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “carry on Santa, It’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right.
“Merry Christmas my friend, and to all, a good night.”

(Thank you Herta for sending this to me.  God bless!)

A poster for every school in America #1

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

(Found this on Facebook.  Thanks for sharing)

What the Pledge of Allegience really means…

In 1997, famous radio, film, and television comedian Red Skelton passed away at his home in Anza, California.  Besides his clowning and entertaining legacy, “Red” leaves us with one of the most memorable renditions of the Pledge of Allegiance that we may ever come across.  Take a moment to watch it.  You’ll come away with a better understanding of what it should really mean when it is recited.

Keep Your Change

Here is a great new patriotic  song / video from 17-year old Paul Ruark.  Real talent and a powerful message.  Take the time to watch.  Also now available on iTunes.

(Hat Tip to Krista Branch, check out her music as well)

You might be a redneck if…

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be
offended by the phrase, ‘One nation, under God..’

You might be a redneck if: You’ve never protested about seeing
the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ‘ Christmas’
instead of ‘Winter Festival.’

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when
someone prays.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand
over your heart when they play the National Anthem

You might be a redneck if:
You treat our armed forces veterans
with great respect, and always have.

You might be a redneck if: You’ve never burned an American
flag, nor intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and
you aren’t afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised
your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You’d give your last dollar to a friend.

I guess I’m a Redneck.  God Bless the USA !

(Thanks to Herta for sharing this with me)

Fresh Start

Fresh Start – Posted on MySpace November 7th, 2008 at 8:35 am

In this pregnant pause before the beginning of the next administration, I find myself deciding that I need to vent.  I need to shout out those things that redden my sight with rage and bring fear to my heart.  Not just to voice them, but to exorcise them.  I want to identify the causes and look at defenses, solutions, and alternatives.  From today forward you will find me here, sharing my thoughts and hopes and fears.  With any luck, some of you will join me.  Together we can find that path to that future that we hope for – not the one that they have planned.