Mind Over Miller: Beyond the fireworks
This column originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Veterinary Medicine.
It is July. The only national holiday this month comes on the fourth of the month. It's calledIndependence Day. But we don't often say that. We just call it The Fourth of July or July Fourth. That's too bad. If we called it Independence Day all the time, it would help our kids understand that it is the nation's birthday and not just a day for fireworks. It's the day we celebrate the United States of America breaking free of its colonial status and becoming a free nation—the freest nation on Earth.
I wonder how many kids today know the words to our national anthem? How many know the story of how and why Francis Scott Key wrote those words on the morning of Sept. 14, 1814, during the War of 1812, as he gazed upon the tattered flag over Fort McHenry, which had been bombarded all night?
All kinds of sporting events take place on Independence Day, as well as parades. In the western states, it's a great day for rodeos. One thing I like about rodeos is how, invariably, the crowd respectfully stands for our national anthem.
Today when someone with a good voice—usually a professional entertainer—is asked to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," he or she often doesn't sing it the way it was written. The singer embellishes and improvises the melody, often adding the vocal acrobatics so popular in today's music. That's not right.
As a matter of fact, I wish we would sing the last stanza of the anthem, rather than the first. Most Americans probably aren't even familiar with the last stanza, but I think it's beautiful.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power 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!
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at http://www.robertmmiller.com/.