As Americans, countless times we sing the Star Spangled Banner. Sometimes we might stumble over the words; none the less, these words are a love song to our nation. The particular words that create the most beautiful imagery for me are “And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” I imagine the author watching this battle and hopefully searching to see the flag as a sign of survival. That is how many of us felt over the hours and days following the terror attacks in Boston. We strained our eyes as we watched footage looping on cable stations to find that glimmer of hope. We needed a sign. We wanted to hear tales of survivors and we wanted the cruel evil-doers caught.
Throughout life, we all face sorrow and travails. Most will not suffer the tragedy of losing a child. No matter what we face, one thing is universal: As we bear the pain or difficulty, we are looking for proof. We want a sign that we will be whole again. We want to know that we will be safe again and health will be restored.
In the case of the terror attack in Boston, many found that “proof through the night” on Thursday, April 19th when the parade of law enforcement and ambulances drove through the streets of Watertown. The second suspect was captured and in police custody. The red glare of emergency vehicle lights illuminated the flags held by teenagers and the bells rang in a church tower. Once again the flag served as a symbol of hope. This is the turning point as we start to feel secure and strong once again.
There is another poignant portion of the Star Spangled Banner that I am compelled to share. “Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, in full glory reflected now shines in the stream: ‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” In this morning following many days of sadness and fear, our glorious flag beckons us to move forward, to stand together, and to cherish what is truly valuable.
I offer my deepest condolences to the victims and families. The emergency responders and law enforcement were heroic, swift, and efficient. Thank you for your commitment to all of us. Finally, thank you to the Boston area residents, who remind us of the meaning of patriotism and courage.