“Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming?” You know these words, don’t you?
It’s the song we sing on July the 4th, whenever the colors of the flag are presented, and yes, at the beginning of U.S. sporting events, we still do that proudly. Quick show of hands: How many times have you been singing along when you see people who are not singing or if they are singing they’re getting the words all jumbled? What’s going on there?
With July 4th here already, and the 241st birth of our nation at hand, I think about all the amazing celebrations of patriotism, heritage, and honor that we all, together, will show to our country this year. One of those most important is singing the National Anthem, aka “The Star Spangled Banner.”
We should all try to sing the song, I think, whether we can carry a tune or not. Sing loud and proud. Someone around you will cover the notes you can’t hit, but sing out! Now please don’t sing if you don’t know the words. That’s just wrong! And if you’re going to have a wardrobe malfunction, please don’t sing on camera. Those are the exceptions.
If you’re like any other citizen who loves your country, you should try to sing the anthem. This song is amazing. It reminds me of the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom, in horrible weather and battle conditions; they gave their lives for us to be able to sit here today and enjoy freedom of speech, religion, worship, all the constitutional and Bill of Rights guarantees. Today, we send our young people into military service where they continue to fight to preserve these freedoms for us.
And all we’re asked to do today, is to show respect to the flag and to our country and sing the National Anthem, when we have the opportunity to celebrate our heritage. I talk more about this, and share who should (and who should not) sing the anthem on my online blog. I hope you’ll read it and share your comments there, too.
It’s no secret I watch a lot of sports, in person and on television. And, of course events and the coverage typically begins with the National Anthem. I think everyone remembers the time in 1990 when comedienne Rosanne Barr made a complete disaster of the song, mostly considered sacred and hallowed, until that particular performance. But I’m not here to bash one performer. In fact, I did a quick search and found a fast list of “10 Celebrity National Anthem Flubs” online.
Here’s a YouTube as proof of “famous people who mess up the National Anthem,” if you can handle the trauma it could cause you to listen. Michael Bolton is the favorite singer of many people, but not on this song; he wrote the lyrics on his hand, and had to check them. Not good.
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Now, it’s not the National Anthem, nor was I around when she was actually first famous for singing “God Bless America,” but singer Kate Smith had an amazing voice. This song was custom-written for her by the late, great composer, Irving Berlin. Its first radio performance was Nov. 10, 1938, but it captures patriotism, allegiance to country, and the celebration of freedom, which we do this July 4th. It’s Miss Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America.”
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This nostalgia brings me back to our wonderful community and all that we do here to celebrate Independence Day. Locally, did you attend the Veterans Concert at Christ United Methodist Church this past Sunday? The American Legion Honor Guard was there; it was a free concert for the public to recognize our community’s veterans.
On Monday, at Elizabeth Lutheran Church in Caldwell, they’re having the 21st Annual July 3rd Celebration & Fireworks Display.
On Tuesday, the College Station neighborhood of Pebble Creek are having a 4th of July parade at 9 am. The Foxfire neighborhood parade starts at 8:45 and goes until 10 a.m.
Also on Tuesday, from 9:30–12 noon, the Brazos Heritage Society hosts a free event for the entire community with live music, flag raising, and a children’s parade (bicycles, tricycles, little red wagons, etc.).
Over in Chappel Hill, they’re having their 41st annual “biggest small town parade,” featuring a Marching Kazoo Band and a Veterans float (open to any veteran), which begins at 10 a.m. on Tuesday the 4th.
Parades and celebrations continue in Downtown Navasota, also at 10 a.m., called “Independence Daze and 4th of July Parade” (“from Prosperity Bank to the Navasota Center, with free food and activities”).
Many people love going to Washington on the Brazos, and HEB and the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association will host events from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the park. It’s free!
If you don’t want to cook, the VFW has you covered—the VFW 4692 is hosting a fundraiser (which is a bargain at their prices). They have hamburger and hot dog plates, with apple pie, a cake wheel and a turkey shoot. Prices are $5 and $6.
Finally, the community’s largest events take place in College Station and in Kurten. From 5 – 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the College Station Noon Lions Club and the George Bush Presidential Library host their “I Love America” 4th of July Celebration, with an amazing concert by the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, free admission to the Presidential Library from 9:30–8 p.m. Everyone loves the fellowship and the fireworks and celebrating Independence this way.
Each year more people are excited that they attended the Fireworks Show and Fundraiser at the Kurten Community Center, hosted by the Brazos County District 2 Volunteer Fire Department. “Gates open at 5, fireworks show begins at dark.” So much for the kids to enjoy (bounce houses and other activities) and there’s plenty of food (hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage on a stick, etc.), so if you are closer to Kurten, that’s where to be!
This is one of my favorite times of year here. Growing up in Bryan-College Station, I remember the tallest flag was likely to be displayed at Allen Honda, the largest one may be at the Guaranty Bank & Trust/KAGS-TV building on Texas Avenue, and our Bryan Rotary Club has been hard at work preparing to plant flags in residential yards and in the Field of Valor.
We see flags displayed proudly all around our towns. How we celebrate this day is very clear to anyone who drives down our city streets.
Whether or not you’re a big fan of holidays that happen on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday because it’s not where you can take a holiday weekend, it’s still the birthday of our nation. Fly a flag if you have one, attend a celebration or gathering if you’re so inclined, or just sit in your backyard for a few minutes and celebrate that we have the freedom to do just that.
God bless America, again and again.
Cody D. Jones ‘02
Owner & Community Member