I just got back from an annual trek to Charlottesville to visit my dear old alma mater, University of Virginia, when O Say Can You See? It's not the U.Va. football team, the "Wahoos," who are the center of attention this weekend; it's the University of Maryland's Terps. Fear the Turtle!
I have to take my Cavalier hat off and cheer for Maryland for this wonderful way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of "The Defence of Fort McHenry." (Yes, they still spelled it the British way back then.) Francis Scott Key's great poem was written to commemorate America's victory in a "key" battle of the War of 1812. Key's poem became better known as "The Star Spangled Banner" and in time, it became our national anthem.
Two hundred years ago this Saturday, September 13, 1814, the British had just come north from burning Washington, D.C. Admiral George Cockburn and Gen. Robert Ross had put the White House, the Capitol, and the Library of Congress to the torch. They were acting in reprisal for the American burning of Canada's provincial capital of York earlier in the war.
British Gen. Robert Ross was especially zealous in his desire to crush the Yankees. Baltimore was then thought to be the real target of the invaders because it was a major port. The nation's capital was still a small town. After demanding breakfast from an American farmer, the general was asked where he and his army were headed. "I will have supper in Baltimore, or in hell," he said defiantly. Shortly afterward, the General was shot and killed by an American militaman. File under: Pride goeth.
I especially like the fact that the Terrapins' uniforms will feature an outline of Fort McHenry on the helmets and words from The Star-Spangled Banner on their helmets, jerseys, and pants. Wow!
I cannot help pointing out that you would learn more of your country's history, more of patriotism, and more about the meaning of this Home of the Brave and Land of the Free by going to a Maryland football game than by taking an Advanced Placement U.S. History Course (APUSH). The producers of that mess of pottage seem to think that they are really serious scholars if they are able to tear down this country and the people who pay their salaries.
We are shocked at the idea of several hundred Unamericans said to be fighting for ISIS or other jihadists abroad. One of those, Douglas McAuthur McCain joins other misguided young men serving their country's enemies.
Who were this young man's high school teachers? What did they teach him? When and where do young people learn what it means to be an American?
Are they taught to read the U.S. Constitution?
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Art. III, Sec. 3.
The Framers of our Constitution set a high standard of proof for treason. We have not had to prosecute many Americans in the past two hundred years for treason. But that does not mean it doesn't occur. Fighting for ISIS is a pretty obvious case of treason.
Douglas McCain won't have to worry about Eric Holder reading him his Miranda rights or having a pro bono lawyer take up his case. Young McCain was killed on the battlefield.
One of the lines on the uniform pants of the Terps says "Conquer we Must." Well, I hope they win. The line is solely about football games, we will be assured.
But Francis Scott Key's words were not about sport:
Then conquer we must
When our cause it is just
And this be our motto
In God is our Trust
With Bibles being banned at Walter Reed Hospital and burned at our military bases in Afghanistan, with Penn State University removing Bibles from housing, is it any wonder that some young people are hopelessly confused?
"We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors among us," wrote C.S. Lewis half a century ago.
I especially like the fact that the University of Maryland uniforms feature cursive writing for some of the lines from The Star-Spangled Banner. With the onset of Common Core, there is a push (APUSH?) to get rid of cursive handwriting. That's reason enough to oppose this unnecessary and intrusive effort to have government control what is taught and what is thought.
I prefer Ronald Reagan's idea: Ours is the only Constitution in the world that begins with three powerful words: We the People.
As long as we have the kind of enthusiasm and patriotism represented by the University of Maryland's new football uniforms, and their fanatical fans, we will continue to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Go Terps!