Sing about freedom to ease wait for driver's test

September 22, 2011|Lisa Prejean

 On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

 Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,

 What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,

 As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Does this stanza sound familiar? What if you replaced the first part of line one with "O say can you see?" Can you sing the rest of the verse with the words at the top of this column? Go ahead, try it, if only in your mind.

It flows a little better with the support of the notes, doesn't it?

Truth is ... most people can barely sing the first verse of the national anthem let alone the subsequent verses.

I became curious about the rest of the "Star-Spangled Banner" when my son mentioned the punctuation in each stanza.

I know he likes words and writing, perhaps to the point that he would notice where the commas go and where the periods are placed. Even so, I was interested in asking why he was suddenly interested in Francis Scott Key's writing style.

"We need to learn all the stanzas of the national anthem for a government quiz, Mom," he explained before I had a chance to ask.

Ah, yes, the beauty of quizzes. They encourage students to learn. The prize? A good grade.

Every word and letter, every jot and tittle, flowing from memory through pen to paper.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is a long song to memorize and write, but hopefully the exercise will be one that will help the students in the days to come as there seems to be opposition on every side to the freedoms we hold dear.

Perhaps the students could sing each stanza as they take their driving tests. Getting a driver's license is one freedom that teens hold dear, and one they need to plan for in advance.

My son has been reminding me that we need to make an appointment with the Motor Vehicle Administration so he can take his test at the end of October. When I got on the MVA Web site earlier this week, I thought I was ahead of the ball game. Here I was making the appointment six weeks in advance. Don't you know? There are people more efficient than I am?

All the Saturdays in October were unavailable, and the earliest appointment we could get was Nov. 8.

My son was disappointed that he couldn't get an earlier appointment, but it will be OK.

The later date gives him plenty of time to practice driving ... and singing the national anthem.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at

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