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U.S. National Debt:

The Enduring "Star-Spangled Banner"

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

"O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight

O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? . . ."

Pope Francis began his recent address to Congress with a moving line from the "Star Spangled Banner", "I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'.  I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility."

The timeless "Star-Spangled Banner" that Francis Scott Key wrote in 1814 as he watched the American flag fly during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 became part of the fabric of our nation.  In 1931, Congress enacted legislation designating "The Star-Spangled Banner" as our national anthem.  The anthem has been sung countless times at important events, referenced at momentous occasions, and has persevered as a reminder of the enduring triumph of our great United States of America over significant challenges. 

September 2014 marked 200 years since the writing of the "Star-Spangled Banner."  To commemorate its 200 th Anniversary, the period from September 2014 through September 2015 was designated as the "Year of National Thanksgiving for 'The Star-Spangled Banner'".  The period included commemoration with appropriate ceremonies, activities, educational outreach and reflection. 

It has been recognized that the "'Star-Spangled Banner' was written to celebrate American courage at a time when the torch of liberty looked as if it were about to be extinguished, and "our national anthem has become an enduring symbol of 'the land of the free and the home of the brave.'"  As this "Year of National Thanksgiving for 'The Star-Spangled Banner'" draws to a close, let us not lose sight of the inspiration of our national anthem and the perseverance through great challenges it has symbolized over the past 200 years. 

We face considerable challenges to strengthen our country for current and future generations, and we can triumph over these challenges if we work together now to enact needed reforms to set our nation on a better course.  We share the common responsibility of ensuring that the torch of liberty is not extinguished and our American flag continues to fly over the land of the free and the home of the brave.   

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