This is my country, land that I love. The upcoming holiday gives us ample reason to reflect on just that.

I have seen the flag that Mary Pickersgill (and her daughter and nieces) put together, lovingly, to fly over Fort McHenry after the battle of 1812.

If you are in the D.C. area, you must stop in and see it. As you look down at that really huge symbol of all that we as a country stand for and all that we have endured to become this great country. Yes, you may well be overwhelmed. I was!

And now, we fly flags of all sizes, to commemorate the greatness of our country and all that we have endured to gain and hold fast to. America: land that we love!

In a few days we will be celebrating America’s independence again, with fireworks and picnics. Exploding fireworks, reminding us of the ‘rocket’s red glare — the bombs bursting in air’!

What must he have been feeling, Francis Scott Key, as he scribbled those words on the back of an envelope — or whatever he might have had that was handy? The tension must have been unbearable, like a hand, clenched around his throat.

But then, there must also have been a feeling of joy and exhilaration, as he noticed, just as the sun was making its debut that fateful morning — the flag! The flag was still there! The fort had not been captured. It was still in our hands. “Tis the Star-Spangled Banner — O long may it wave — O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics for us, but it was the brave soldiers and sailors that fought so bravely and, in many cases, died that we might still be standing on freedom’s soil.

Let us remember those brave men who sacrificed for us, along with those from the wars that would follow, all to keep us safe and free.

Then conquer we must, if our cause it is just, and thus be our motto, “In God is our trust!”

Along with flags and fireworks, we will have parades, with music from marching bands. Enjoy the music and the uniforms and cheering crowds and, while you do, remember all that went before to make this great day.

Sometimes, when I think of parades, my mind goes back to the early days. Not the early days of our country, but the early days of my life. Those were days of innocence and simplicity, when a parade was a time of joy and excitement.

One of my brothers always led the parade, with some sort of long skinny object that he could use for a baton. He was the leader and where he went, we all went. Through the wagon-shed, around the corn crib and down around the old barn.

We followed behind with an old pan and a short stick or some object that you could bang upon it, like a drum. The important thing, was that it makes noise.

Personally, my favorite was pan lids, about the same size, to bang together, like cymbals. What joy!

Of course, sometimes on parade day, our mother may have had to search for the lid to that pan she was intending to cook the potatoes in — or perhaps for the pan itself.

As for the parade itself, we marched and we sang! When you are young it isn’t so much that you know all of the words but that you have spirit and feeling and, especially, volume.

This is MY country, land that I love!

Loretta Nazelrod Brown is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears every other Sunday in the Times-News.

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