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Ninety years ago today, on March 3, 1931, Congress officially designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key as the national anthem of the United States of America. Key’s song is a reminder of the fight for freedom and the patriots who gave their lives during the founding of our country. Key wrote this poem as a tribute to our flag as a beacon of hope and liberty for all American citizens and the world. On the anniversary of this poem becoming our national anthem, it is appropriate to remember the price so many have paid throughout our history to secure our rights and liberty.Francis Scott Key did not anticipate that his poem would one day become the anthem and make him famous, but his poetic words and reputation proceeded him. He was born to a wealthy family in Frederick County, Maryland on August 1, 1779. He attended St. John’s College in Annapolis. After finishing his studies, he learned and practiced law under his uncle for several years. In 1802 he married Mary Tayloe “Polly” Lloyd and the couple moved to Georgetown where he practiced law. Key gained notoriety when he defended Justus Eric Bollman and Samuel Swartwout who had been charged with treason. He would go on to serve as the District Attorney for the District of Columbia and even an advisor to President Andrew Jackson in the 1860s.During the War of 1812, the British attacked Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814. For over 25 hours, cannon fire, bombs, and militia tested the resilience of the fort. The British attacked the fort after successfully marching through Washington, D.C. where they burned the Capitol and the White House. During the assault, Key made an agreement with the British and boarded one of their ships to rescue his friend who was a prisoner of war. As the battle continued into the night, the British forced Key to remain on the ship to prevent him from aiding his countrymen. From the ship it seemed as though all hope was lost for America. However, it was the sight at dawn that inspired Key to pen the famous words to his short poem, originally titled, “Defense of Fort M’Henry.”O say can you see by the dawn’s early lightWhat so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleamingWhose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fightO’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in airGave proof through the night that our flag was still thereO say does that star-spangled banner yet waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.The poem describes the beautiful sight of liberty overcoming tyranny as the United States flag soared over the fort at dawn declaring an American victory. The banner was specifically commissioned by Major Armistead who was in command of Fort McHenry. Mary Pickersgill along with her daughter, two nieces, and servant all worked for over six weeks to complete the flag. They made two flags, one to charge the garrison that was 17 by 25 feet, and another to fly over the fort that was 30 by 42 feet. Both had 15 red and white stripes and 15 stars to represent the 15 states at the time. It is estimated that they used over 300 yards of wool; she was paid nearly $600 when it was complete. When it was clear that America had claimed the victory, the larger of the flags was raised. This flag was passed down through the Armistead family. Over time, pieces were cut off and shared with veterans, family friends, historians, and political figures. Today what is left of the flag is preserved in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.Within a week, the poem that Key wrote describing the victory at Fort McHenry was published in the Baltimore Patriot, a local newspaper, and its popularity soon spread. Key’s brother-in-law set the poem to music and took the tune from a men’s social club song called, “To Anacreon to Heaven.” After the poem was put to music it was renamed, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Because of the vulgar connotation of the tune as a “drinking song” and its association with the social club, Congress rejected it when the song was first proposed as the national anthem in 1930. Its leaders wanted the national anthem to have more wholesome and honorable origins. Further some members did not agree with adopting the song because it was difficult to march or dance to the rhythm. Other well-known patriotic songs such as “America the Beautiful,” “Hail, Columbia,” and “My Country, Tis of Thee” where all close contenders in the debate for America’s anthem. Finally, in 1931 they came to a consensus and “The Star-Spangled Banner” was declared the national anthem.Our national anthem is a testimony of our nation’s history and founding. As we sing the words together before a ball game, in our schools, on Independence Day, and at political events, it’s a great opportunity to take the time to remember that freedom is never free. It is our sacred duty to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness so that the next generation might benefit from the freedom that we have because of the sacrifice of the generations before us.
This is Part 3 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read Part 1 on Antony Blinken and Part 2 on Xavier Becerra.Jennifer Granholm, who served as the Governor of Michigan from 2003-2011, is back in the national spotlight as President Joe Biden has nominated her to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. The Energy Department is tasked with overseeing America’s energy supply and carrying out environmental clean-ups. As the Secretary of the department, she would have a major influence on environmental policies, and would be responsible for enacting Biden’s climate change policies.Why should American Christians care about Jennifer Granholm’s nomination to lead the Department of Energy? When there are so many pressing issues that demand our attention, does the Department of Energy—and the one leading the department—really require sustained thought and reflection? In short, the answer is “yes.”On the issue of the environment and creation care, David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview explained, “Christians should care about the environment because it reflects the glory of God.” But he also cautions that Christians should not become “subservient to the created order.” Christians are called to exercise stewardship over the created world and should oppose efforts to exploit it. While the Bible is clear that the created world primarily exists to bring glory to God, it also exists to serve man’s needs. An unbiblical line is crossed when nature is defied or elevated in importance over people who are made in God’s image.Unfortunately, in comments made during Granholm’s nomination hearing, it appears Biden’s nominee will pursue energy and environmental policies that prioritize politics over people. Several times during the hearing, she dodged questions about the economic impact of her new green policies and how many jobs might be lost due to them. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that Granholm, who has claimed to be Catholic, will hold to biblical principles on her environmental policy given her radical positions on other issues, such as abortion.It should be concerning to Christians everywhere that the nominee to lead the Department of Energy would care so much about saving the planet for future generations, and simultaneously promote a pro-abortion agenda that directly harms future generations in the womb. Granholm considers herself a champion for abortion, showing hostility toward the lives of the unborn. For example, in a 2012 op-ed, Granholm smeared pro-life measures as a “war on women,” perpetrated by “white male legislatures” to enforce their power on women. During an interview that same year, she claimed that the pro-life movement was allegedly seeking to degrade women by assuming they are unable to make decisions for themselves.Granholm’s pro-abortion ideology marked her tenure as Michigan’s governor. On two separate occasions, she vetoed a Partial Birth Abortion Ban—which protects babies that are near birth from being killed while being born. This same ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. She negotiated with the Michigan legislature to loosen restrictions on abortions, preventing a bill that would require an ultrasound prior to receiving an abortion. In her second term as governor, she advocated for a ballot provision that would allow aborted fetal stem cell research in Michigan. Unfortunately, Emily’s List, the pro-abortion group that recruits abortion-friendly candidates, got exactly what they wanted when they endorsed her for governor.Environmental policy has become entangled with protecting the unborn due to recent comments from prominent members of the Democratic Party. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) claimed that funding abortions helps to reduce the world’s population, thereby helping fight climate change. In addition, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) alluded to a similar idea, describing what she viewed as the “disaster” our planet will be in without eliminating the effects of climate change. Along these lines, she claimed that millennials should legitimately question if it is still acceptable to have children. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is becoming mainstream in progressive circles, as high profile figures suggest that abortion is a necessary means to prevent overpopulation.One’s worldview, whether biblical or not, will be revealed in the way they live their life. In the case of Granholm, how she leads, the decisions she makes, and the orders she implements as the head of an executive agency will reveal her worldview. The Bible calls for all of us to care for the world that God has created and to be stewards of the environment and our neighbors (Gen. 1:28 and 1 Peter 4:10). The disconnect is when leaders such as Granholm go too far in one direction, and care for the planet but not neighbor, in this case the unborn. It is crucial to have officials who are concerned about caring for the planet and the lives of the next generation—not just one or the other. As the Secretary of Energy, Granholm would have a platform to enact liberal policies that are purported to protect the environment. If confirmed, she will hopefully hold to a biblical worldview in all areas of public policy and become a steward that protects and cares for the environment and the unborn.Joseph Norris is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on pro-life federal affairs.Molly Carman is a Research Assistant for Worldview and Ethics.
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