Frances Scott Key, author of the words to our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner. He was a lawyer and poet who found himself in a boat on the Chesapeake Bay during the highly unpopular War of 1812 in an attempted prisoner exchange of a captured British officer and an American physician. Key stood on deck with pen in hand, hoping against hope that dawn’s early light would reveal the United States flag still waving. Key penned a poem that does not glorify battle; but sees that freedom from foe must sometimes be fought for as it offers gratitude for unexpected salvation.
“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
In our country today, we face the dawn of challenges too numerous to mention. At dawn’s early light, will there be enough light to notice current threats to freedom that come from within us and among us? Will we find the courage necessary to increase the intensity of the light and to speak truth about what must be done without casting darkness on those who dare to disagree? I will entrust you to your conscience and conviction.
As for me and mine, I pray for a prisoner exchange between inertia and action. I pray that I will be courageous enough to allow my love of God to illuminate my love of country; and my love of country to illuminate my love of God. At dawn’s early light, may I proudly hail that not only is the flag still there, but so too is my courage, my country, and my abiding love of both.
Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter