“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, over the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
It’s the last part of the last line in the US national anthem. But what does the national anthem have to do with food allergies? Looks like it’s time for a short history lesson.
Back during the war of 1812, in 1814, the British came and burned Washington DC. Then, they dropped off soldiers at North point and then sent their cannon ships up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore. De to the earthworks the citizens of Baltimore had dug, the soldiers on land couldn’t get to Baltimore without help from the Navy, but, the Royal Navy couldn’t get into Baltimore without first passing by Fort McHenry. On September 13th the ships stopped a certain distance from the fort and started the bombardment. Just before all this, a lawyer (Francis Scott Key) sailed toward the ships in a boat with a white flag to discuss the release of a prisoner of war. The release was accepted, but neither Key nor the prisoner released were not allowed to leave the ships till after the battle. It was from this location that Key watched the fort that protected his city be bombarded.
All day and all through the night, the Royal Navy sent bombshells at the fort as well as rockets (these rockets gave off red light, hence the line in the song “rocket’s red glare”). The fort’s cannon could not fire back as well. They were basically at the mercy of the British bombing. They tried to fire back as best as they possibly could, but they didn’t manage to take out the Royal Navy. Still, they were brave. They stood their ground. And they never gave up, even though a storm soaked them all night long as the bombardment continued.
Finally, in the morning, the Royal Navy stopped firing and there was silence. The air was covered in smoke that was hard to see through. As Key looked at the fort in the early light of dawn through the smoke from the cannon, he wondered what flag he would see. It was the American flag. And it wasn’t just a little flag, the troops at the fort raised up the large flag (which you can now see in the Smithsonian), and it was clear that the victory was won by the troops at Fort McHenry. The British sailed away, and the US was spared from the Royal Army burning Baltimore and working their way up North through the rest of the states. Key, penned a long poem, which later got put to music, and grew in popularity, and then officially became our National Anthem.
Now, back to how this relates to food allergies. I’ve grown up singing it. But the part at the end that always seems to stick out is how America is the “land of the free”, so I never really thought much about the next few words, “and the home of the brave.”
It took incredible bravery to fight in that battle when it seemed hopeless. The US’ cannon was no match for the Royal Navy’s cannon and rockets. But they didn’t give up. And they kept going despite the odds being against them. The pouring rain and storm. The smoke filled sky. Having less ammunition than the Royal Navy. Having less experience. Being outnumbered. But still, they held their ground, and they stood firm. And their bravery is now of what we sing in our anthem.
Those with food allergies understand well this feeling. Sometimes it seems like they are doing everything they can do, and they are still overwhelmed, bombarded with feelings of fear, doubt, “what ifs”, of possible reactions and more. Staying alive and staying sane requires bravery. But for them, giving up is just not an option. For me, despite having been through so much, having nearly not made it several times, giving up is not an option. I’ll keep fighting till the day they find the cure.
America is not remembered and defined by all the battles fought and every challenge and obstacle faced (if you study history there are a LOT of battles that have occurred since the American Revolution), but by the fact that while not every individual battle was won, they never gave up. It is their courage and bravery that is remembered and honored.
And, like that, so are those with food allergies more than every food they can’t eat, more than every reaction they’ve had, more than every challenge they’ve faced, but they are heroes because they never give up, they have courage, hope and bravery.