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The "Oh Say Can You See" Flag

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History of the Flag of United States of America

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The “Oh Say Can You See” Flag

By: Derek L. Cromwell

On September 11th, 2001, our freedoms came under attack. 

Each of us will remember where we were and what we were doing when the attacks came, but there is a memory I will hold that came not on that day, but rather on September 15th, four days after the attacks.

I had to go to the hardware store to pick up a few items for some work I was doing. My 4 year old daughter, Elizabeth, wanted to go along. When we arrived at the Hardware and approached the building,  Elizabeth noticed the American flag that had been hung between the Entrance and Exit on the front window of the store.

We stopped in front of the flag and I asked her if she knew what it was.

“It’s the flag,” she said.

“What flag is it?” I asked her.

“It’s the ‘Oh Say Can You See’ flag,” was her reply.

I explained to her that it was called the American Flag, and began to tell her what the colors, the stripes, and the stars meant. As I was talking to her, I noticed that a crowd had begun to gather around us. Some dozen or more people, some parents with children, some seniors, were standing there as I shared a little history with my daughter.

When I finished, she was quiet for a few seconds, then she began to sing…

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

By the second line, those who had gathered began to join in, and be the time it was over, there was not an adult present who didn’t have a tear in their eye.

When the song was over… all was quiet for a few seconds, when Elizabeth once again broke the silence with one profound word.


Isn’t is reassuring that even when we as adults are lost for what to say, what to do, or what to feel, that our children can bring us such peace, comfort, and reassurance.

God Bless America,



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Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2003 Derek L. Cromwell, The Wanted Man