A doctor, a lawyer, and a flag that still waved

While we consider July 4 to be the birthday of the United States, June 14 is the birthday of the United States flag. Although June 14 is observed as National Flag Day it is not an official holiday, so banks don’t close and no one gets a day off work.

But we enjoy it anyway, wearing red, white, and blue, and displaying the flag at homes and businesses. Some patriotic organizations pass out small flags or flag pins to wear.

American flag waving at a Vietnam Veterans Wall replica
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall replica

The United States flag is often called the “Star-Spangled Banner”, after our national anthem, which is more about the flag than about the nation. I don’t know if this is true in other countries, but we tend to closely identify our flag with our national identity; maybe that’s one reason there has been such heated debate about the way people acknowledge the flag publicly.

A lawyer and a doctor

So that brings us to a true story involving a doctor and a lawyer that almost sounds like the opening line of a joke. Today doctors and lawyers sometimes bear the brunt of jokes or criticism, but in this story they played a pivotal role in American history. It’s a story that most people know, but maybe not the whole story.

The lawyer, Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key’s role in our national anthem is well known-he wrote it. A lawyer, he was on a rescue mission during the War of 1812, and spent a harrowing night watching the British assault Ft. McHenry near Baltimore Maryland.

The next morning, when he saw the red, white, and blue flag still flying over the fort, he was moved to write a poem. That poem became “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The doctor, William Beanes, M.D.

Dr. Beanes’ role is less well known. Dr. Beanes was the object of Mr. Key’s rescue mission. Dr. Beanes had been captured by British soldiers and imprisoned on a ship. Local citizens arranged for Francis Key to go to the ship and negotiate his release. It is believed the British were persuaded to do so because Dr. Beanes had previously treated injured British soldiers. Whatever the reason, the “elderly” (age 65!) doctor was freed and he, Key, and John Skinner, watched and waited out the battle on a near-by truce ship.

An anthem is born

“Interestingly, he( Key) made no effort to promote this composition. In fact, he did not even sign it. He merely showed his lyrics to a few friends, who then circulated the work. For several decades, Key’s name rarely appeared alongside these lyrics, which — by the time of the Civil War — had become arguably America’s most beloved song.

It wasn’t until 1931 that a congressional resolution signed by President Herbert Hoover made “The Star-Spangled Banner” the U.S. national anthem — an anthem that never would’ve existed had a lawyer not been asked to help out a doctor.” TIME.ORG

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James McHenry, M.D.

Even Ft. McHenry has a medical connection- it was named for a physician, James McHenry.

James McHenry emigrated from Ireland to the American colonies in 1771. He studied medicine with Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia and immediately volunteered as an Army surgeon when the Revolutionary War began. After serving in the medical department in Massachusetts, New York and at Valley Forge, he became an aide to General George Washington and subsequently an aide to the Marquis de Lafayette.

President Washington appointed McHenry Secretary of War and he continued in that post under President John Adams. Baltimore’s Fort Whetstone was renamed Fort McHenry in his honor. (source-PubMed.gov)

sharing the HEART of history

I hope you’ve enjoyed this bit of medical history trivia and that it prompts you to do some history exploring on your own. You may also find this related link interesting

Poems and poppies-why we remember John McCrae-physician, poet, reluctant soldier

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me.

American Legion Auxiliary logo in a field of poppies
OLD GLORY I am proud to be a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, a women’s service organization supporting veterans, the military, and our country. In this link from the ALA blog, learn why the flag is also called Old Glory.
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Poems and poppies-why we remember John McCrae-physician, poet, reluctant soldier

 

Our most solemn holiday

In the United States,  the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, but it’s now become a  “holiday” weekend. History.com calls it “America’s most solemn holiday.”

That’s a fitting title, since it commemorates 2 solemn events- the wars our country has fought and the men and women who died in military service for those wars.

And now, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend is  observed as  National Poppy Day

 

 

 

Why poppies?

I love the story of the poppies because it has a medical connection.

In the battlefields of Belgium during World War I, poppies grew wild amid the ravages of war. The overturned soils of battle covered  the poppy seeds to,  allowing them to grow and forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed of war.

Out of this conflict came a poem, from which also came the association with poppies .

 

The now famous poem, In Flanders Fields, was written by a Canadian physician, Lt. Col. John McCrae.

 

Originally from Canada, Dr.McCrae was an English and math teacher, as well as a poet, before he attended medical school. He moved to England and was practicing there when World War I broke out, and he was called to serve as a brigade-surgeon.

I suspect that as a physician, he was deeply  pained by  treating the wounded, and the loss of those he could not save.

“In April 1915, McCrae was stationed in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, in an area known as Flanders, during the bloody Second Battle of Ypres.

In the midst of the tragic warfare, McCrae’s friend, twenty-two-year-old Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed by artillery fire and buried in a makeshift grave.

The following day, McCrae, after seeing the field of makeshift graves blooming with wild poppies, wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Field,” which would be the second to last poem he would ever write.”

(from John McCrae at poets.org)

 

 

In Flanders Fields

Dr. John McCrae, 18721918

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place, and in the sky, 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly, 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe! 
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high! 
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

This poem is in the public domain.

Soon after writing “In Flanders Fields,” McCrae was transferred to a hospital in France, . Saddened and disillusioned by the war, McCrae found respite in writing letters and poetry, and wrote his final poem, “The Anxious Dead.”

In the summer of 1917, McCrae’s health took a turn, and he began suffering from severe asthma attacks and bronchitis. McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis on January 28, 1918.

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sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

May timely topics-memories, memorials, and mothers

May is a month of celebrations and remembrances.

You’ll find several affiliate links in this post, to help me fund this blog and give extra value to you, my readers.

In the United States, we call the second Sunday in May Mothers’ Day to honor mothers. We may not be one, but we all have one, although like me, yours may be deceased.

You may have pleasant or not so pleasant memories of your mother, as nurturing may not come easily to some women, possibly because they did not receive it. Sometimes when that happens, other women step in to bridge the gap. They deserve to be honored also.

Other events that typically occur in May include proms, graduations, and weddings. I know because I married my husband in May; I almost share an anniversary with the Duchess of Sussex, the former American actress Meghan Markle. And now she and Prince Harry are new parents of a so cute baby boy, Archie. What a sweet family they make.

May timely topics include

  • parenting issues
  • spring and summer health concerns
  • Memorial Day, another U.S. national observance
  • women’s’ health
  • books about mothers

thanks for exploring with me

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

You will find links to the Timely Topics on the Home page and on the right sidebar on every post (you may need to scroll down to find them on a mobile or tablet)

Featured image

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

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Here are some other affiliate links you may find helpful. Thanks for considering.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Love, Lewis, and a letter from John

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.

Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”

1 John 4:7-11, NLT

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Books by C.S. Lewis

faith, hope, and love.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

The photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

                              Dr. Aletha