Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The star spangled banner . . .continued

Usually, all warships of the United States fly the Union Jack (in US usage, that's the canton of the US National Flag - the blue part with the white stars - and not the British jack) as their naval jack (the jack is the flag flown from the front of the ship, as opposed to the ensign, which is flown from the back. In the US Navy, the ensign is the US National Flag - the "Stars and Stripes.")

On September 11th 2002, exactly one year after the war on terror started, the Navy started to fly the First Navy Jack from all of it's ships. The first navy jack is a flag consisting of 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes with a rattlesnake diagonally across them. At the bottom is the motto "Don't Tread On Me." It is, as the directive ordering the change put it: "an historic reminder of the nation's and Navy's origin and will to persevere and triumph."

The Navy SpecWar liasion at Camp Vance (the special operations headquarters in Afghanistan) had one flying over his office, and it was always a pretty moving moment to look over past the National Flag flying in front of the TOC (the HQ building, basically), and see, lower and smaller behind it, the "Don't Tread On Me" flag. It always made me feel like, as long as some of us remember where we came from, our nation would be OK.

So what does that have to do with the Star Spangled Banner? Just this: just as we changed our navy jack, I'd like to see the military change and sing the fourth verse of the National Anthem instead of the first during the war (at official functions, Army-Navy games, and so on.) Just the change would be a reminder of what we're about, and the fourth verse speaks to the US view of war better than almost anything else (of course, its politically incorrect as anything, given that it invokes God's blessing on our nation, but I don't see that as a bad thing, actually.)

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home 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 it 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!

(Information on the Navy Jack came from


Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

OMG Becky...I had no idea what you were talking want to hear something scary? I am doing my masters in American History, and I only learned today...on the internet...from some SF guy...that the Star Spangled Banner had more than one verse...oh, the shame!
Anyways...thanks for the nugget of enlightenment.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Mental Meanderings said...

As I recall West Point candidates used to sing the third verse rather than the first.

"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."

10:36 PM  
Blogger Special Forces Alpha Geek said...

Yeah, the third verse describes my feelings about the terrorists pretty well - but, since it was originally written about the British, it seemed a bit rude to suggest it.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Mental Meanderings said...

We could tell them that we really meant the French. :)

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Razor said...


Can't speak to all cadets at all times, but from the late 80s to the early 90s, cadets were only required to know and sing the 1st and 4th stanzas of the National Anthem.

3:37 AM  
Anonymous Swords Drawn Till Heaven-365/24/7 said...

See for all 4 verses, which includes a short background.

See more at for Smithsonian sub-links: Story of the Flag, Birth of the Banner, Battle of Baltimore and War of 1812.

I was reading a recent post by Thunder6 (365 & A Wake Up-The SAT-03/18/05) where he noted:
"As I finished I noticed my mouth was dry and I had to take a long draw of water before continuing. When I slaked my thirst I told SPC Frances to close his eyes and I would tell him why. As he closed his eyes I told him to imagine his young wife, his beautiful infant daughter and the future he wanted for them. He paused a moment and a smile slowly creased his face. As he looked up I caught his eyes and told him a simple truth. I told him that the thin line that separates the two realities isn’t a line on a map or the signature block on a document filled with hollow proclamations. The dividing line between the two kingdoms is a long line of soldiers. And that is why I’m proud to call myself a soldier. Its not about a lack of options, or the size of my paycheck. Its about what kind of world I want to leave for my children if I am lucky enough to be a father."

When I read this to my wife, she immediately noted that reminded her of one of the stanzas (she thought 3rd or 4th and an internet search confirmed the 4th) of the Star Spangled Banner. She taught in a private Christian school here in CO where she, like CaliValleyGirl, found out there were more than one verse.

You and my wife exemplify the old adage, “Great minds run in the same vein (or think alike).” Keep up the good work!

1:53 AM  

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