We hear it before every baseball game. We sing it at the top of our lungs at karaoke parties. We hum it in our cars. We hear our kids practice it on the tuba for marching band. Last week, a 10 year-old boy named Jaxon told me it is his favorite song to sing. And he does a great job of it, too.
"The Star-Spangled Banner."
What is that? Yes, it's about the American flag. Our flag has 50 white stars, representing the 50 states of the United States of America.
According to dictionary.com, to spangle means to sprinkle or stud with small, bright pieces, objects, or spots. To Francis Scott Key, our 50 stars spangle our banner and represent life, liberty, and all that we stand for as Americans. Did you know he wrote two other verses? Here's the last verse, which reminds us from Whom we got this free land.
Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blessed with vict'ry 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'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
After serving in Fort Campbell, I gained a lot of patriotism as I looked into the eyes of these men and women and saw, for a moment, what they saw when they left their homes and their families for "the war's desolation." I saw how alone they felt, how scared they were, how BRAVE they were, and how determined they were to give up everything they had, even their own lives, to protect the freedoms we declared 236 years ago: Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom of religion.
If it weren't for freedom of religion, Joseph Smith would never have grown up in a burned-over district where many churches professed their truth. He would not have searched for truth and prayed to Heavenly Father for an answer.
Prophets of old saw our land in a vision when they arrived in the Americas: "We have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed....And if it so be that they shall serve [God] according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them." (2 Nephi 1:5-8).
The question for you all today is, How can we "spangle" our lives with bright things?