Is there a national anthem that isn’t, at its heart, simply an unquestioning proclamation of the glories of that nation?
Yes there is. It’s ours.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” famously starts and ends with a question — the only anthem that does so.
It begins, “Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light/What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?”
And in the version we hear almost daily at ballparks and other venues across the land, the anthem ends, “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
The opening question was addressed to the first generations of Americans, those who fought in and lived through the Revolutionary War that gave us our freedom, and the war that secured our independence, the War of 1812.
But the second question is addressed to us, as it has been to every generation since the siege of Fort McHenry two years after the outbreak of the War of 1812 inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that would become our national anthem.
Almost 200 years later, and 237 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate today, we are still challenged by the question.
Is the America of 2013 still the land of the free?
Daily, it seems our freedom is under attack at home as well as abroad.
Today, tighter security is in place for the annual Fourth of July Boston Pops concert and fireworks on Boston’s Esplanade in the wake of the terrorist bombing attack on the Boston Marathon. Indeed, as Boston security officials are preparing for that event, Mayor Carolyn Kirk has commissioned an investigation and report by Police Chief Leonard Campanello to determine whether the security measures carried out at this past weekend’s St. Peter’s Fiesta — and the actions of K9 units tied to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department – went too far in confronting and restricting residents and visitors at the St. Peter’s Club and on Rogers Street after Fiesta had closed late Saturday night.