The Defense of Ft. McHenry

by Pat Tarzwell   11/22/17
In this season, it is a good time to reflect on the things we have to be thankful for.  I am so thankful for God’s grace and love that I cannot express it in words alone.  But there is so much more, (of far less consequence I should add, but much more to be grateful for).  I will not burden you with a long and incomplete list, but rather focus on an area that has been under attack of late.  Old Glory, The Star Spangled Banner, The Red White and Blue, you know, The American Flag.

I know it is popular to say that the flag itself is nothing more than a piece of cloth and that it is not the symbol of something greater; well I suppose, for some, that is true.  But to me it is more than that. I must admit, I am a sappy lover of this nation and I am grateful for all the sacrifices made by others to give me the blessing to live here.  But when I hear the National Anthem, and I see the flag being raised, I get a lump in my throat and a welling up in my eyes as I think about those that gave so much for us to be and to stay free…

If you read or study about a poem written just over 203 years ago, “The Defense of Ft. McHenry” (now known as The Star Spangled Banner), you may understand why it moves me so much.  The year was 1814 and the battle of Baltimore was underway. Washington was on fire and Baltimore was the key port in America at that time. This local attorney, Francis Scott Key, was asked by then President Madison to go and negotiate the release of a prisoner taken by the British, Dr. Bean, a dear friend of his.  You see, Dr. Bean was found to be treating both British and American wounded, so prison it was for him. So Key boards the British ship and is promptly detained because the British were about to attack Fort McHenry, which guarded Baltimore Harbor. 

A giant F.Y. to the British and a message to the rest of the world, that this whole freedom thing, yeah, we mean it.

The flames from Washington fires could be seen and the British Admiral could not resist taunting Key about how, when the sun came up, it would be the British Flag flying over the fort. Key is said to have replied to the British admiral that this would never happen because the men, women, and children inside of Fort McHenry would crawl on their knees to their God to be sure the standard of their freedom, the flag, would remain flying and that instead he would find a pile of bodies around that flagpole the next day whether the flag was still on it or not.

As he watched the seemingly endless shelling by the British throughout the night, and listened to the relentless chiding of the Admiral, he worried that the fort could not stand, and that the fort, as well as Baltimore harbor, would fall, thus crippling this new nation so early in its life.  But as the sun came up and as the song says, at the twilight’s last gleaming, The Flag was still there and so was the fort, and so was our most important port.

Unbeknownst to him or anyone else outside the fort at that time was what the men, women, and children endured that night in the fort.  You see, the British did knock down our flag, and they put it back up. And it got knocked down over and over.  But the American spirit would not be broken, and in the wee hours of the morning, in a last act of defiance, the fort commander ordered that the flag be hoisted again: not the normal flag but the giant ceremonial flag that could be seen far and wide.  To tell the world, we will not be broken. This is what I think of when that song is played.

The poem’s first verse ends with a question: Oh say does that Star Spangle Banner yet wave, or the land of the free and the home of the brave?  Well that is truly a great question. The flag will be waving a long time, but is it still the land of the free?  Maybe, mostly, sort of; and the home of the brave?  Well that is the part I am thankful for, because there are still brave men and women willing to risk life and limb to keep us free.

So when some over-privileged punks want to say that the flag has no meaning, that they cannot bring themselves to stand during Our National Anthem, I say go pound sand. The people in that fort fought and died for your worthless butt. The many thousands of men and women who fought, died and had to kill their own just to set the slaves free, or to give up their lives or limbs to fight back the leftist totalitarian regimes of the world, did not do so that you could piss on that same symbol.

For me, the flag represents so much more. It represents the idea that this nation will not be ruled by thugs, that we will not be bullied by the likes of a king, a Hitler, a Stalin or even the likes of today’s whiners. It says to the whole world that they can kill us, but they can never take our freedom (sorry to steal from Braveheart but it fit). A giant F.Y. to the British and a message to the rest of the world, that this whole freedom thing, yeah, we mean it.

So for all those that have laid their lives on the line, or given the last full measure of devotion for our freedoms, for those that think the flag represents more than something to wipe their feet on, I am thankful for all of you. Have a wonderful and grateful Thanksgiving Day and May God continue to bless you and this nation.

Pat Tarzwell was born conservative, runs a successful hi-tech business, and lives a red-state life in a deep blue one. • (337 views)

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22 Responses to The Defense of Ft. McHenry

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Some years ago, I was having a discussion with an Eastern European immigrant about the flag. She had had a conversation with a leftist professor about flag burning and both he and she didn’t see the big deal.

    I tried to explain to her the importance of our flag.

    I explained the symbolism in the number of stars and stripes which made up the flags and the history which went with those.

    I pointed out that unlike other countries, the U.S. did not have a monarch or non-political head of state. Our president was both head of state and head of government. That being the case, he was going to be seen in a political way by most of the population.

    I then said that not having a non-political human head of state that we had substituted a symbol which embodied an almost transcendent ideal that was the USA. And when a people see such a sacred symbol being mocked, spit, trampled upon or burned, they tend to get annoyed.

    In a word, the flag represents/is the symbol of the nation and its ideals. You cannot attack the flag without attacking the country.

    I don’t think she understood me.

    • pst4usa says:

      Thank you for trying Mr. Kung. You have brought up so much more, that I did not include in my little rant, so thank you for that as well. Our flag has a very rich history, and this tiny little abridged story, is only a small piece of it. It just seemed relevant to the Stand-up-don’t-loot argument going on these days.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        The left hates the flag precisely because it is the mystical symbol of the USA. Only by spitting on the flag can they spit on all the USA and what it stands for. Never doubt that. It is not just about cops and such.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Well, that’s not the only way they can spit on America. The infamous ad by a Hispanic group supporting Ralph Northam was a perfect example of spitting on middle America. This is hardly an isolated incident. Indeed, I would say that leftists hate America (and the flag, and perhaps even the anthem) because they hate ordinary Americans.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Yes, but by spitting on the flag, they are including all of it in one fell swoop.

            As a symbol of America nothing comes close to the flag, not even the Statue of Liberty.

            One must remember that Americans pledge allegiance to the flag, not the national anthem. I find it inappropriate when people cross their hearts when the anthem is played, unless the flag is being raised at the same time and even then I have my doubts as to the appropriateness. The appropriate action is to stand at attention to show respect, not cross one’s heart.

          • David Ray says:

            It was some hilarious bullcrap. The little children running for their lives. (The rebel flag was a nice touch.)
            In actuality, liberal fools insist on importing people who do run us over.

            Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving not yet banned by the ACLU. Well i gotta go. I’m behind on my gunning the engine over inocent children quota.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Yes, they stopped running the flag after the New York truck terrorism incident — which, as you observe, was an immigrant running down Americans. The ad was just another piece of liberal projection.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      In a word, the flag represents/is the symbol of the nation and its ideals. You cannot attack the flag without attacking the country.

      American Exceptionalism is an idea misunderstood…or willfully so in the case of the former anti-American president, B. Hussein Obama. Obama understood it (dishonestly or otherwise) as meaning, “Were better than other countries.” And as a committed internationalist (particularly in regards to knocking America down a notch and thereby raising all other nations), he said that the French believe they are exceptional just as the Italians think they are exceptional, etc.

      But American Exceptionalism isn’t about the same old jingoistic notions of excessive and narrow pride in one’s nation, race, or religion where therefore all the out-groups are inferior because then otherwise we couldn’t be the superior in-group. As Americans, we’re as susceptible to anyone in this regard.

      What is exceptional about America isn’t to be found in our DNA or in superficial things, even such non-superficial things such as geography, natural resources, etc. The exceptionalism is fully related to our founding ideals.

      Anyone who is honest will note that those ideals were never fully met. We had a costly Civil War trying to live up to one of them, that all men are created equal. But the race hustlers (including these NFL kneeling goons) find it a convenient way to rip our country. And other than physical violence there is no better way to do that than by ideological violence. And there is no larger target of what America stand stands for than our flag and national anthem.

      Pat is perhaps off the point a bit when he wrote:

      I know it is popular to say that the flag itself is nothing more than a piece of cloth and that it is the symbol of something greater; well I suppose, for some, that is true.

      It’s precisely the idea that the flag is a symbol of something great that is the point. Pat articulated one of those most basic points: We will live free, dammit, no matter how hard you try to subdue us.

      There are many other ideals that are woven together and represented by that flag. We should talk and write more about them because they are being forgotten and slandered. When these racist (I call them…and I think I’m right) NFL players kneel during the National Anthem, they are slandering our country. They are saying that the ideals of liberty, equality under the law, and a personal duty to be a decent human being doesn’t apply to them.

      They and others would like to rip that flag apart. Their kneeling is a broadside from a British ship-of-the-line at Fort McHenry. A lot of really shallow, stupid, and just plain vapid go-along-to-get-along types try their best to wish this reality away, defining it as merely a “free speech issue,” or whatever.

      But that flag, and therefore the ideals it represents, needs constant defending from the slanders. And, of course, the ideals implicit in that flag also should remind us of those times when we fall short. But to shit on the flag as these NFL goons are doing is to say, “Screw your ideals. We think they’re all bad. We want a race-based society, not a colorblind one. We don’t want equality under the law. We want equal “free stuff.” We don’t want blind justice, we want justice to be parceled out according to declared victim status.”

      Nuts to them all. Defend the flag. And always defend it in terms of what that flag means. And we should all thank Pat for reminding us of some the important history of that flag and of our country. There’s nothing kneel-worthy in those facts.

      • M Farrell says:

        Hi Brad— In addition to what you and Pat have said, I’d like to add that the flag for many of us has (“triggers” in today’s parlance) solomn overtones— I had to explain to a lib colleague of mine that for me these NFL fellows had gone beyond the point of no return— That Flag was draped over the caskets of my father and three uncles (served honorably in WW II and Korea ); it was draped over the casket of an older cousin who died in Vietnam; it was draped over the caskets of two of my son’s police officer colleagues— In this era where everyone is entitled to be “offended” by every conceivable bit of nonsense, why should she be surprised that some of us are appalled by the complete lack of respect for the sacrifices of much better men— She was surprised to discover that not only did the protesters’ behavior not gain my sympathy, but it caused me to turn away in disgust and it caused a complete disinterest in anything they might have to say— I tried to tell her when you spit on that which is sacred to many of us, you may learn the difference between the sacred and the profane the hard way— Many of us will simply and quietly turn away; we’re completely done with you— There are lines that you simply don’t cross— Thousands of years of human civilization thrived without the NFL/Hollywood/500 television stations— I’m also doing very well, if not better without them— Happy Thanksgiving to All—

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One can note, as Trump has, that the kneelers have been quite ready to stand for the British and Mexican national anthems, thus indicating their specific purpose is indeed their hatred of America. Let them formally expatriate themselves if that’s how they feel.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That Flag was draped over the caskets of my father and three uncles (served honorably in WW II and Korea ); it was draped over the casket of an older cousin who died in Vietnam; it was draped over the caskets of two of my son’s police officer colleagues— In this era where everyone is entitled to be “offended” by every conceivable bit of nonsense, why should she be surprised that some of us are appalled by the complete lack of respect for the sacrifices of much better men…

          M Farrell, I think too often defense of the flag is draped in reverence for our military, as if the ideals implicit in the flag that apply to all weren’t defense enough.

          But your articulation of what it means to you in this regard strikes a chord of sincerity. In such personal cases as yours, the flag-kneeling must be genuinely offensive.

          No one here is for racism or unequal protection under the law. That said, the reality is that it is monstrous to blame America for animals in the hood who cannot and will not act like civilized human beings. Yes, it sucks that sometimes good cops have to shoot or arrest them. But this wouldn’t happen if the black neighborhoods cleaned themselves up. And they can’t do that if you simply let the lunatics run the asylum and shift the blame elsewhere. And that is precisely the effect you get of blaming America (white people, cops, etc.) in general.

          My condolences for the losses you have personally suffered. There are those who would say that your father, uncles, and friends died precisely so some race-inspired thug NFL athletes could shit on the flag in a pre-game ceremony of contrived grievance. In some vague sense, there is truth in this.

          Where I diverge from my libtard-infused friends (and they are legion) is this idea that there is somehow more honor in shitting on the flag (thus supposedly showing how precious free speech is) than giving it reverence. And this is what the left, through college and the media, has propagandized many people into believing. Dishonor is now the greatest honor. Up is down. Black is white. You know the routine.

          It is right and suitable for the NFL to require players to act honorable during the National Anthem. Period. That the powers-that-be do not shows you why many of us are tuning out. The culture of the NFL, perhaps best exemplified by its leading whore, ESPN, is becoming rotten.

          There are better things to do in life than let this rottenness into your home each Sunday (or Monday, or now even Thursday).

          • M Farrell says:

            Brad, my favorite Sam Adams quote is:

            “If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

            It seems there is a whole segment of our society crouching down begging to lick the hand that feeds them— May the chains sit lightly upon them, for I have a hard time realizing/believing they are my countrymen—

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              That’s a great quote by Mr. Adams, M. Farrell.

              Certainly various types of servitude are in vogue. And many segments which have the stated claim to liberty (such as libertarianism) offer little more than servitude to open borders, drugs, and the usual laundry list of Liberalism Lite.

              I was messing around with some apps on my new tablet. (Yes, I bought myself something techy for Christmas as I usually do.) I found a good Bible app and, just on a lark, read the first couple Psalms. I’m by no means a bible-thumper in that, if there is a good idea implicit in any of that, I’ll tend to emphasize the good idea rather than just use the prestige of the Bible as my only point…thump, thump.

              But the gist of those early Psalms could be summed up as: Oh, what a rotten humanity. Oh, Lord, save me from this gravitational black hole of vulgar libtards spreading deceit, destruction, and despair.

              The “nicest” people on the planet are actively enabling the worst kind of social dysfunction under the guise of “sensitivity” or some other self-serving euphemism. Those who have learned some of the useful lessons of life have chosen to spread politically correct baloney instead of their hard-fought wisdom. They thus help to sentence large segments of the population to degradation. But at least they have their wine bars.

      • pst4usa says:

        Well another error on my part Brad, there should have been the word, …is “not” [the symbol for something greater…] in there and no matter that I read it before sending it to you, my mind inserted the word right there, I can do it even now, it is just that you point it out that makes it clear. Thanks for catching my mistake. I was way off point missing that one little word.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Your own personal traveling internet secretary has made that correction, Pat. I sort of thought you were trying to articulate the idea of an even higher third level. The flag is: 1) Not just a piece of cloth; 2) Not just a symbol of something greater; 3) It’s the banner under which real, tangible heroes risked and sacrificed their lives in the preservation of freedom.

          Sort of like that.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    And may you (and all the rest) have a good Thanksgiving too.

    “The twilight’s last gleaming” of course refers to sunset, when they knew the flag was still flying and hoped it would continue to do so. The question was whether they would still see it flying in “the dawn’s early light”. And so they did.

  3. pst4usa says:

    You are correct Timothy, but I was in a rush, so I beg forgiveness for my error.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Terrific essay, Pat.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


    We had Thanksgiving dinner with friends from Eastern Europe. After dinner, I heard some of them discussing a couple of points about America which I couldn’t help but try and correct.

    First, one of the women said that Thanksgiving was where Pilgrims asked the Indians to come for a celebration in order to thank the Indians for showing the Pilgrims how to plant crops thus save themselves. I pointed out that Thanksgiving was in fact to thank GOD for their survival and that the tradition was carried through George Washington who declared a national day of Thanksgiving some 175 years later and then to Lincoln who made it a federal holiday, as I recall. She then said, “that’s your opinion.” As you see, facts don’t matter with these people.

    Second, when talking about thanking the Indians, someone made the remark about how thankful the Indians were for the infected blankets that the Americans gave them to exterminate the Indians. I couldn’t help myself and said that was simply nonsense.

    First, the case people are thinking of concerns a British commander who apparenty gave some Indians blankets infected with smallpox. The number of blankets was two. The claimed incident happened during the French and Indian War, (Seven Years War) and the officer would have British. The intent would have been to weaken an enemy in war, not to rid the continent of Indians.

    Much more deadly for the Indians was the actual contact with Europeans who brought with them diseases for which the American Indians had no immunity. This was especially the case in the Caribbean where tribes were basically wiped out. But the Europeans did intentionally try to spread the measles and mumps to kill Indians.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I believe the smallpox-infected blankets came during Pontiac’s rebellion, which was right after the French and Indian War — and the British actually gave the Indians what they probably were seeking, a line beyond which the colonists could not settle. (They did anyway, and this helped lead to the American Revolution.)

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I believe the smallpox-infected blankets came during Pontiac’s rebellion, which was right after the French and Indian War

        You could be correct.

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