Photo by Special to the Sentinel

Francis Scott Key by Joseph Wood, 1825

‘Star-spangled’ anniversary

Golden summer evening, the blast furnace heat of day mellowing into a feather-light dusk. Settled onto the bleachers, the metallic clang-clang-clang as other fans do the same, baseball cap in hand.
Across the diamond, no rockets’ red glare, no bombs bursting in air, thankfully. Instead…
”... proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
It’s coming. Out on the pitcher’s mound, a singer with a decision to make: Go higher or not?
“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…”
A cringe of anticipation.
The notes are high already, an a capella mountain climb with big leaps between notes rather than gentle steps.
”... o’er the land of the…”
So, what’s it going to be: “free” or “free-EEEE,” with the last part of the word a fourth higher? It’s a firework crescendo if hit just right, a yowling tomcat screech if not, and it has become The Decision that singers of the national anthem must make.

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