My friend Sandy Hubbard found an incredibly creative wedding invitation. A record player made from paper that plays an original song by the couple. What could be more outside of the paper box?
Denis Labelle recently posted Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business in 2013.” Notables include clothing and game designers, entertainers and producers, technologists and a smattering of scientists, women and men of all races.
We are living in perhaps the most creative time in history. But not too long ago, women would not have been on the list and neither would people of color or men who were not aristocrats. Not that long ago, there was no list.
Commoners and peasants could not become entrepreneurs. There were no credit cards or home equity lines to fund your lean startup. And a failed venture meant public shame and possibly a trip to debtor’s prison without a get out of jail free card.
Entertainment on demand was for kings, queens and aristocracy. Before the 20th century, people lived in fear of government or gangs confiscating their land and homes. Medical treatment, food or shelter for the poor and indigent did not begin until the late 20th century.
On the record of human history, the birth of freedom happened only a few grooves ago. If you skip the needle across the past 246 years, you would miss some of the most important songs in history. These aren’t the top songs on iTunes or Spotify. One of these songs personifies the fight for freedom that provided the creative free life we enjoy.
Francis Scott Key, after watching rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air for 25 hours, penned “The Star Spangled Banner.” He wrote those emotionally powerful words that became our national anthem 199 years ago at the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812.
“It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” Key wrote later. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory. By Cate Lineberry, www.Smithsonian.com
There are stories of men giving their lives to make sure the flag flew through battles. It is they who sacrificed life and live with the nightmares of wars’ atrocities who we celebrate on Memorial Day.
Last week, one of our suppliers told me of a startling event that also inspired this post. She asked what Sally and I were doing for Memorial Day. She then told me about her military family, her husband and father’s service. What she shared next is what Sally’s mom and dad feared.
“I was at a school event last week. They played the National Anthem and I was the only person standing,” she lamented. I told her about Sally’s mom and dad’s fear this might happen and their wish that we never forget what so many fought and died for.
America is not a perfect nation and never will be. What is perfect is our privilege to speak out about our government without fear of reprisal and to expect change. What is perfect is our freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. What is perfect is the freedom of speech to complain about the very people who provide it, the people we remember and honor today.
The American flag is an icon of freedom for Americans and the entire world. The stars on the flag aren’t fifty states, they are we the people, you and I. This is what soldiers fought and died to uphold.
Whatever you’re drinking today, Evian, a crisp Chardonnay, your favorite ale or lager, iced tea or a fine single malt, take a few minutes and play your favorite version of the National Anthem, and toast those who paid the highest price for you and yours.
Today’s barbecue is brought to you by those wonderful folks who gave life and limb.
These are two of my favorite Memorial Day songs: Aretha singing the “Star Spangled Banner” and Ray Charles performing America the Beautiful after 9/11 at the World Series.