CATCHING THE SPIRIT

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The Flag of these united States of America flies night and day, at the Francis Scott Key monument, at Frederick, Maryland.

Passing Parade, by Nelson A. Pryor, Guest Columnist

Decades ago, television viewers would see a slide show of American imagery, the National Anthem sung, and perhaps a mountain range or frothy shoreline and then…hours of static, at sign off time.

Then, we graduated to 24/7 tv, and the National Anthem disappeared.

But recently, tv broadcasters have been reintroducing the practice of playing the national anthem once a day, pairing it with the same flavor of patriotic imagery, but in high definition and with multilayered audio.

Gray TV takes it national

The November 4, 2019 New York Times 1c, says: “National Anthem Makes a Comeback.” It reports on Gray Television, which has 145 stations, mostly in small and midsize markets, who has made it a company wide policy several months ago.

Stations owned by Gray television, which stretch across the country from Presque Isle, Maine, to West Palm Beach, Fl., now play the company’s national anthem video.

The one-minute, 45- second clip includes a 9-year-old South Florida girl, Reina Ozbay, singing the anthem, a uniformed soldier giving a salute and a young boy with his arms wrapped around a serviceman, perhaps his father. The video then flips through an array of scenery: a band of wild horses gallops across a rural expanse, a whale’s tail dips into the water, a harvesting machine pushes through a field of crops, an American flag ripples in front of an industrial-looking town.

Lest We Forget

As dawn slowly broke across the Chesapeake on September 14, 1814, a young lawyer and poet, courteously but firmly detained on board a British warship, peered into the gloom for signs that the defenders still held Fort McHenry, the small fort guarding the entrance to Baltimore’s harbor. All night the British had stood off, out of range of the fort’s guns, and methodically bombarded it, apparently reducing it to rubble. Shell after shell had crashed into the fort’s ramparts until they were obscured by rain and a sumptuous blanket of smoke. But surprisingly, with the dawn, the defenders’ fired their morning salute. The British fleet turned south, away from the city, and as they did, the fort’s victorious garrison of citizen-soldiers defiantly hoisted their magnificent flag, thirty feet high and forty-two feet wide. Overcome with relief, Francis Scott Key took up his pen and now wrote his now-famous poem.

The August 10, 1898 New York Times 5, reported “Key Monument Unveiled,” as a memorial to the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in the authors home town, Frederick, Maryland.

Since then, Natioal Anthem Day has been designated as March 3, annually. And Mr. Key has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, in New York City.

Communications Commission, Representative Virginia E. Jenckes of Indiana urged the agency to suggest to American radio stations that they sign off with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Television adopted the practice from radio, with their signoffs fresh after WW II.

An interesting book, by Judge Edward S. Delaplaine, Francis Scott Key, Life and Times, 1937, is considered highly useful for class room work.


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