It was one of those oddly named wars, like the War of the Roses, or the Hundred Years War.  Obviously tired from naming the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War (how can any war be civil?) the Committee for Naming Wars could only come up with the "War of 1812."  From the beginning it was a strange war.  The Americans suffered defeat after defeat.  It was such a strange war that the most glorious battle for the United States happened at New Orleans, in January of 1815, one month after the war had ended.

By September 11, 1814, the outlook for America was bleak.  The British had  invaded Washington D.C. burning the Capitol and the White House. The commanding British General set his sights on Baltimore.  He knew he could handle the Oriole and the Raven, but he was unprepared for the strength and determination of the Eagle. He bombarded Fort McHenry on September 13th and 14th.  By dawn on the 15th, a Baltimore lawyer who was being detained on a British Warship out in the harbor, noticed that in spite of the bombing the flag was still waving.  This young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was then moved to write a poem that eventually became our national anthem. Sporting events have never been the same.

On September 11, 2001, several hours after dawn's early light, another group bombed America.  Planes exploded, buildings collapsed, people screamed, hearts sank, heartless people  cheered, God cried.  Within hours a flag was flying at each site.  Even before the flag went up it was waving in the hearts of the firefighters, police officers, and other rescue workers who risked their lives to save others.  It was waving in the heart of the President as he joined with religious leaders in prayer for unity, hope, faith, and encouragement. Other religious leaders simply pointed fingers of blame.  When we needed peacemakers, they gave us piecemakers. Unfortunately, religious leaders don't always lead us toward God.

One week later, on top of the rubble, the flag still stands.  History repeats itself.  It flew at Fort McHenry.  It flies at the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and it flies at the Oklahoma City Memorial.  It flies in the heart of every true  American, whatever the race or religion.  Our country is too great and our God is too big to be done in by terrorists.  Our God is also too big to allow us to become terrorists and hate anyone who looks Arabic.  Do we hate people who look like Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber?  Do we hate anyone who looks like the religious leaders who crucified Jesus?

No one who dies on a Day of Infamy should die in vain.  They didn't in 1941 . . . and they won't now.  My interpretation of patriotic songs has forever been altered.  I have now seen the rockets' red glare and our spacious skies filled with smoke, but I have also seen God's grace shed on us. The flag, torn and battered, still waves  . . . and the eagle, wounded and scarred,  still flies. God bless America.


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