Approaching the 4th of July

| July 1, 2007

My wife is off in Utah, helping out on the birth of our (let’s see now…) ninth grandchild, so I filled in for her at church conducting music during the sacrament meeting. Our closing hymn was “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and while I managed to keep conducting through the entire hymn (three verses), I only sang the combined equivalent of one verse, since I was choked up and weeping the rest of the time.

It was a bit embarrassing, but I had at least one friend, Tyler Selle, who came up afterwards and said he had pretty much the same experience during the hymn. Interestingly, he didn’t come from a military family, nor had he served in the military, and his children are all quite young. But he did study military history in college for several years — and it left him with a profound respect for the United States and our armed forces. As I’ve noted before, my father, John A. Webster, served in the Navy for 29 years (starting with Pearl Harbor in WWII and ending with two tours in Vietnam), while his namesake — my son, Jon A. Webster — now serves in the US Marine Corps, is scheduled to start machine-gun training in September, and will probably deploy to Iraq next February.

When the LDS Church revised its hymn book back in 1985, it dropped the third verse of the Star-Spangled Banner and now includes only verses 1, 2 and 4. It’s understandable — the third verse is a bit bloodthirsty, and it refers to the British (from the war of 1812, when the Star-Spangled Banner was written), who of course have been our staunchest allies since then — and since the next hymn in the current hymnbook is “God Save the King”, the continued inclusion of the third verse would be a bit contradictory. And yet it is a shame because the third verse is probably now more relevant than ever, not about the British (God bless ’em) but about the Islamofascists against whom we now both fight:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

One need only read Michael Yon’s recent dispatch from Iraq to gain a sense of the enemy against which we fight, while the latest entry from Acute Politics merely supports Dean Barnett’s thesis that we are seeing the rise of a new “greatest generation.” The difference is that this generation — both deployed and here at home — faces anti-war propaganda not from the enemy but from our own country’s media and political opposition.

I have my own criticisms about how we have approached the liberation of Iraq — and I may write about those at some point — but I have no questions about the very real struggle — the “long war” — in which we find ourselves. As I’ve noted before, Sandra and I were living in Washington DC on 9/11 and had just moved into a house only about 3-4 miles away from the Pentagon and the White House. Al Qaeda tried to take out in a single day the key financial, military and political centers of the United States — this was a deliberate act of war, not a mere “terrorist attack” as some have tried to paint it.

I will end with this simple thought-experiment: if Al Qaeda had succeeded in crashing United Flight 93 into the US Capitol Building, what do you think Congress’s stand — and in particular the Democratic Party’s stand — on the war in Iraq would be today? Personally, I think it would be quite different, as in far more determined and supportive. I’m interested in your thoughts as well.

In the meantime, a happy and safe (but not too safe) 4th of July to everyone, and don’t forget to remember what it is we celebrate. ..bruce..

[UPDATED 07/02/07 – 0937 MDT]

Here is a different point of view. Your mileage may vary.  ..bruce..

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Category: 2008 Election, Commentary, Geopolitics, History, Main, Military, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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