Can you see?

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 28, 2003

Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light

As the flag rises in the early morning haze, my thoughts turn to war.

I pass the National Guard office turning the corner to school and wonder:

how many moms, dads, sisters, brothers and friends will leave today to protect that flag and everything it represents? I see the protesters blaming our president, I see the signs insulting our armed forces, but those pale when I see the flag.

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming

This year marks a historic record for the United States National Guard.

Almost 3000 &uot;citizen soldiers&uot; in Missouri alone will be deployed to fight for our country overseas.

Just like everyone else, these men and women have friends, jobs and families.

They’re the people you see at the grocery store or the mall everyday.

But these are the extraordinary people disguised as average — because they are willing to fight to protect the rest of us as well.

Whose broad stripes and bright stars

It was during the War of 1812 that the National Guard began defending the United States.

In the battle at Fort McHenry, with thousands of British soldiers poised to attack and cannons blazing through the night, the people of Baltimore started fighting back.

The then &uot;citizen soldiers&uot; stood between a raging mass of soldiers and the first American flag.

Since then, they have never stopped protecting the freedom that flag stands for.

Through the perilous fight, gave proof through the night

Every day there are more protests, in our city, around the world.

People demonstrate against the war, but worse, they demonstrate against the people fighting it.

Why do these people think they have the freedom to protest the government?

Why do they think can insult their own country, why do they believe they are allowed their own opinions. It’s certainly not through anything they’ve done.

Holding up clever signs doesn’t get you freedom.

Fighting for it does.

That our flag was still there.

The elements of the Guard are in all of us.

A strong heart, a will to fight, a desire for freedom are parts of everybody.

Those who find those qualities and use them are the ones protecting us — those who don’t fight, but insult and degrade them instead should thank the National Guard.

Those &uot;citizen soldiers&uot; fight for the flag — they did in 1812, they do today and they will again.

They fight for the flag because it stands for freedom.

Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave

A citizen soldier ran below deck the morning after the fateful night at Fort McHenry, telling the other original Guard members, prisoners on a British battleship, that the flag was still there.

And then Francis Scott Key began to write.

O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Anne Marie Rhoades is the niece of Star-News columnist Jan White. This editorial won a superior award when it appeared in her high school newspaper.