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Heroes through the years

The Spirit of Tehachapi

Pat Gracey.

When I was 10 years old and attending the fifth grade in Tehachapi Grammar School, we gathered in our classroom and before class began, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and then sang the patriotic hymn, "My Country 'tis of Thee." It was a nice song and we liked it. Written by Samuel Francis Smith, this would have been in 1938.

One morning our teacher, Mrs. Webb said, "Our national anthem is 'The Star Spangled Banner' and has been since 1931 when it was officially declared the anthem of this country by then, President Herbert Hoover. "

So it was that we began to sing another fine song, "The Star Spangled Banner." Sometimes we sang more than one of the three verses printed in our music books but usually just the first. There is a fourth verse but it is seldom printed anywhere.

The song did have a fine composer, Francis Scott Key. It was first written in prose form and later in verse form for singing. Francis Scott Key; a patriot, author, lawyer and American who wrote the song while a prisoner on a British ship during the war of 1812.

It would seem that the British had captured an American doctor, a civilian, to prevent him from treating American wounded. Dr. William Beaumont had treated both British and American military and should never have been taken prisoner.

Francis Scott Key had made himself available to exchange himself as a replacement for the physician so he could continue to treat the injured on both sides.

Thus, as he watched the battle of Ft. McHenry, he penned the first words of "The Star Spangled Banner." A noble act by a brave citizen, and a fine song to remind us, lest we forget.