As I reflect back on "The days of summer" (evidenced by my last post re summer's shades of green and how I'm missing them), I continue to be struck by two profound "patriotic teaching moments". One goes back to the very beginning of summer ... the heralding in of the season with the Boston Pops annual Fourth of July "fireworks spectacular". This year, because of weather, it was aired on the 3rd and frankly, having watched them since their inception in 1974, I found it to be one of the best, most enjoyable, and most "American" celebrations in the tradition's history. Not bad for the dress rehearsal that turned into the real thing because of circulating summer storms. Not bad in spite of the fact that, because of the those storms, the live traditional airing of the 1812 overture was curtailed and was replaced by last year's recorded version which was played AFTER the fireworks display (again, due to weather).
The entertainment line-up was pure Americana pleasure ... from its inclusion of America's favorite Broadway hits and the traditional patriotic sing-along to the appearance of the iconic Beach Boys. The Beach Boys, now captained by original band member Mike Love (that's another story for another post ... but he is the holder of the "Beach Boys" name), are the true "boys of summer" and are, after so many years of performing on the 4th at the Washington Mall (a great show that, experienced live, is the memory of a lifetime) really emblematic of America's 4th of July celebration - wherever they perform on that day.
Anoher highlight was the introduction of a newly commissioned Boston Pops arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner. It's performance was to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the writing of our National Anthem by lawyer Francis Scott Key while he was on shipboard just outside Baltimore Harbor, witnessing the action that took place with the British at the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. ( As part of the arrangement, Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, was to read the history of the Star Spangled Banner, that reading to include Francis Scott's Key "account" of how our "Flag was still there" after "the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air". The "poem" penned by Key would not officially become our National Anthem until designated as such by an Act of Congress on March 3, 1931.)
During a pre-show interview, Governor Patrick was interviewed about his upcoming performance. During that interview, he was wearing a baseball cap. I remember thinking: "Please tell me he's going to remove it prior to the live performance". (I later found out I wasn't the only one thinking along those lines.) Then came the live performance ... and to my horror ... for the reading of the narrative, the hat stayed on. If that was the end of the story ... my wrath would have been expressed here. But instead ... as the Boston Pops launched into its rendition of our National Anthem, Governor Patrick very purposefully and respectfully removed his cap and placed it under his arm. I thought: "That is one teaching moment ... if the cap had not been sitting on his head, the teaching moment - that a man's hat (unless he's a member of the military in uniform) is always removed for the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner". Well done, Governor Patrick ... and I hope all young men wearing baseball caps took note and followed suit. And will remember it into the future. (Hopefully, into the current football season at least!)
It seems I wasn't the only one who found this year's celebration "spectacular". The broadcast received an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Special Event Coverage" by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for Boston/New England.