Our National Anthem

Our National Anthem

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

Our National Anthem

Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.

Marianne Williamson

My husband and I had not been married long when he took me to an AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service) movie theater at Fort Hood, Texas. We bought our tickets, purchased popcorn and carefully chose our seats to watch the film. The theater began to fill, and we waited for the curtain to go up.

My husband kept glancing at his watch as if he had to be somewhere, and, promptly at 1900 (7:00 P.M.), he set his soda and his popcorn aside. I was about to say something to him when the curtain began to part and I heard the sound of our national anthem being played. I scrambled to find somewhere to put my soda and popcorn, and finally made it to my feet and put my hand over my heart. This was certainly not the first time I had heard the national anthem, but it was the first time I heard it played in a theater before a movie.

I waited for the last note to sound and then looked at my husband’s smiling face. He had purposely not told me so he could see my reaction. Needless to say, the next time we went to a movie on post, I was ready to stand with pride for the playing of our national anthem.

When we moved to Germany, we continued our habit of seeing movies at the theater on post. We had only been there a few days when we went to our first film. Just as before, we bought our tickets and popcorn and made our way to our seats. We stood for the playing of our national anthem, and before we got to “by the dawn’s early light,” tears were streaming down my face. This was my blessed country’s sacred song, but I was no longer living between her shores. Experiencing these words while standing on foreign soil lent every utterance and declaration a deeper meaning.

My heart swells with newfound pride and patriotism each time I hear the sweet strains that remind me of the price of my freedom. I am proud to be an American and even more proud to be married to a soldier who has defended my freedoms and yours for nineteen years.

Only by leaving America did I truly understand and appreciate love of country, and I now wait with great anticipation to return to the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

God bless America.

Gail Gross

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