Oh, say can you write

By From page B2 | March 06, 2013


LAUREN JOY from Miller's Hill School in Latrobe reads her essay at the Elks Club in Shingle Springs. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

he Placerville Elks Lodge No. 1712 put out a call for creative writers in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades to craft an essay on “What does the National Anthem mean to you.”

The students in El Dorado County responded with an excellent group of papers.

Students were given information about the National Anthem and guidelines to follow with the judges looking at originality, development of theme and mechanics and neatness.

The top three placing students in each category were recognized at a dinner at the Elks Lodge in Shingle Springs. Each winner received U.S. commemorative coins and first place earned $100, second place $50 and third place $25.

The winners in the grade fifth to sixth grade category were: Harleen Kaur Bal, first place; Elisabeth Lewis, second place; and Tiffany Zha, third place.

The winners in the seventh and eighth grade category were: Lauren Joy, first place; Chloe Pittman, second place; and Addison Eppler, third place.


Harleen Kaur Bal

Grade 5, Lakeview Elementary School

Though I had heard and sung our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” multiple times in the past, I finally felt it for the first time during a recent patriotic assembly. I had been thinking about all that our country has gone through in the wars and battles to establish America, and now, in modern times to maintain our country against terrorists and natural disasters. The challenges we have faced are overwhelming. But as I sang the anthem that day, I felt incredibly brave and powerful; the lyrics touched my heart.

After that day, I replayed the anthem over and over in my mind. “… And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, …” caught my attention. Is that the same as 911 with planes crashing buildings and our twin towers crumbling to the ground? ls that the same feeling as Hurricane Sandy tearing away coastline and drowning towns? It is the same. Americans have faced all of these challenges bravely, keeping our country strong.

How does America stand so brave? Our anthem reminds us that “… our flag was still there …” Our flag represents hope and strength and the courage to keep going on. Despite rockets glaring, bombs bursting, planes crashing, towers crumbling and towns drowning, we never give up. ln life, as I face any struggles or challenges, the anthem reminds me to stand strong. I know that if I give it my best, in the end everything will be okay. Our flag will still be there …


Elisabeth Lewis

Grade 6, Marina Village Middle School

The smoke burned inside my throat. As I watched the British ships fly to the scene, I was devastated, hopeless. There was no way I could do anything now. I could’ve looked away, but it was hypnotizing. I felt the rumble and vibration of rapid gunfire. My heart sank to my toes. All night the battle of Fort McHenry carried on. We were beaten. Outnumbered.


My eyes stung and I could barely keep them open. But as the red glare of rockets and bombs shown down on the land, I saw an unbelievably wonderful sight: the American flag waving high and proud.

I don’t know how the flag still flew, but I know why. All those soldiers who died, all those families who heard in disbelief that their precious boys were gone, it was all for one thing: For the people of America. The flag is a symbol of America; and America is strong.

Seeing the flag was more than inspiring. It was like finding out that all your wildest dreams were coming true. The flag still waved. Hope grew inside of me. And then it hit me.

The words streamed stanza by stanza into my head. “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.” These words were just pieces of what was to become my best poem yet. The American flag shall wave “for the land of the free, and the home of the brave!”


Tiffany Zha

Grade 6, Marina Village Middle School

“Oh, say can you see  …” Every time I hear this cherished tune, I can picture things it’s implying: our flag, symbols, songs, culture and nation. It’s not just the song … it’s really the meaning hidden behind that matters, that means much to me.

The national anthem doesn’t just represent the Star-Spangled Banner; originating from a poem called “Defense of Fort McHenry” by Francis Scott Key it represents a great country and its people.

The national anthem symbolizes our flag, but it also reminds me of the Olympics. Every time an athlete from USA wins a gold medal, our national anthem is played. Our national anthem’s full of our athletes’ pride and hard work to achieve each medal.

Our national anthem also reminds me of war. Bombs bursting in air — it’s like a battlefield. As if red is for blood, white for courage, and blue for patriotism. Perilous fight — there has indeed been many  dangerous fights that have been recorded in history.

When I think of the lyrics of the national anthem, I remember we’re the “land of the free and home of the  brave.” This is a great honor to live up to! Thanks to the courageousness of soldiers and thoughtful founding fathers, America is truly this nation we describe it as!

Not only representing us, the national anthem symbolizes much more than you could imagine. If you actually think, you can discover so much that’s being suggested. All around us is implied in the famous song!

One nation, under God, with Liberty and Justice for all.


Lauren Joy

Grade 5, Miller’s Hill School

The National Anthem is a very moving and inspiring poem that signifies how hard our country fought for independence and how lucky we are today to have this kind of freedom. You can tell how much the poet of the Star Spangled Banner really loved our country and we should continue this love for the United States of America.

This National Anthem means many different things to many different people. To me, it brings the image to my mind of the American Flag, swaying in the wind, tall and proud, amidst the battle grounds. lt stands tall, no matter the hardships. The Star Spangled Banner represents America, the beacon of hope for many countries around the world. lt represents our beautiful lands, the varied culture and religions that our country holds. lt shows our bravery, courage and determination in fighting for the freedom of our country. The National Anthem unites every one of our beliefs in freedom.

America has had so many hardships leading up to what we are today, a country with the freedoms that we have. This anthem really does show how we overcame those hardships and how we spread justice and equality throughout the world. The writing of this anthem was a significant mark in America’s history. lt represents our journey, from those thirteen colonies, to us now, the fifty, United States, of America. We truly are “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


Chloe Pittman

Grade 8, Miller’s Hill School

When I hear the Star Spangled Banner, I always think of our great country, and how beautiful the song sounds; resembling our freedom and greatness. The song shows the passion we had during the American Revolution to gain liberty. When I hear it, the feeling that encircles me is a feeling of inspiration to make our country the best it can be.

The anthem moves me especially when a very talented singer performs it. They put so much heart and passion into performing it sometimes, that it makes me really believe in America, putting aside our  issues and hardships. I sing as a hobby, and someday, I would consider singing the Star Spangled Banner to be an interesting goal.

When I read the lyrics to the National Anthem, I feel the expression of the detailed war. I can see the rockets exploding, and hear the cannons and gunshots blaring. I can imagine a dirty, and tattered American flag waving in the gray morning glow. The poem does a wonderful job of describing the great struggle for liberty and separation from Britain.

Our country is a cornerstone for the rest of the world. We show our power with every move we make. We are Americans and we show this in being peacemakers and justice dealers. Through our complications, we still find ways to show the world that we are still the greatest country in the world.


Addison Eppler

Grade 6, Miller’s Hill School

The National Anthem, for many years, graced our country with a unique way to say  “We are American.” To me that means we can express what it took to become a free, independent and thriving country.

Written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, the song creates an array of imagery of the naval war in Chesapeake Bay with the “bombs bursting in air” and “the rocket’s red glare.” But what does this mean to me? It shows other nations how triumphant we were in the Battle of 1812, along with any other war we fought. It says to me that no matter which feud, win or loss, we are proud to have the opportunity to fight for what we as Americans, believe in.

The anthem consists of four, cultural and awe inspiring, stanzas depicting the complications of war and the feeling of celebration as the flag rose to show that America would live on. There were a few lines that appealed to me personally, one being “Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” This line in my point of view, clarifies that no matter the hardships America faces, the power of Americans will keep our country strong and powerful.

Altogether, the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, and our triumphant ode to freedom, fills me with pride for our country. I feel entirely proud and contented to call America my home. Every spirited American shouldn’t be whole without the Star Spangled Banner to represent our country.

Mimi Escabar

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