It also gives people a chance to think about the national anthem. Many of us have sung the song. Few of us have considered the words. Francis Scott Key was a prisoner on a British warship. During the night the British fleet had been attacking Fort McHenry with naval artillery and rockets. As morning was approaching he was wondering if the fort was going to surrender. They would signal this by lowering the flag. Thus he expressed his joy,
Oh, say, can you see? By the dawn's early lightThe flag was up when twilight descended. It was still there in the dawn. The sun was coming but it was still dark enough to see the rockets blowing up in the air.
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air.What we might consider fireworks were the cutting edge of military technology in the 19th century. The British were experimenting with rockets instead of cannon. It made a lot of noise and bursts of light. The big problem was hitting the target.
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:...
Americans shoot off fireworks on Independence Day to commemorate that day in the war of 1812. They may not know it, but that is what they are doing. I am not informed enough to declare that no one used rockets and bomblets to celebrate before Americans but I do believe that it has become a distinctively American thing to do. From our front porch we picked out at least five different locations that were paying the big bucks to light up the sky. We were happy that millions of Americans were doing the same in their back yards and streets.
I hope you enjoyed the day.
homo unius libri
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