“September Morn” is a painting by Paul Emile Chabas, completed in September of 1911. The painting depicts a nude young woman standing ankle deep in a lake or pond. As the early morning mist is rising from the water’s surface, the young lady is covering her female areas with her arms, either out of modesty or as insulation from the morning chill. What has this painting to do with American history? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The painting only illustrates how beautiful a September morning can be.
Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of a British prisoner of war ship in Baltimore Harbor on the night of Sept. 13, 1814, as the Battle of Baltimore raged. He witnessed the relentless Naval bombardment on Fort McHenry, which defended the entrance to the port. If the American flag came down at the fort, the British would have won the battle. When the smoke had cleared on the morning of Sept. 14, 1814, a large star-spangled banner waved from a bent and beat flagpole. The British attack was repulsed and their forces left. Later, at Fort McHenry, Key saw that the bodies of dead and dying Americans were holding up the flagpole.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, radical Islamic terrorists flew aircraft into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and were thwarted in an attempt to fly a fourth plane into Washington – all symbols of our strength and prosperity. After the buildings in New York collapsed, a group of first responders found an American flag and they flew it from a makeshift pole in the rubble.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese thought they had destroyed our great battleships, the backbone of our Navy. On the morning of Sept. 2, 1945, under an American flag, the ruling elitists of Japan had to come aboard the Battleship U.S.S. Missouri and sign the document of their unconditional surrender.
Yes, September mornings can be as beautiful as a young damsel dipping her toes in a pond or as resolute as the symbol of our nation standing in defiance of attack.
Demonstrators can trample her and burn her to emphasize their cause; professional athletes may kneel in disrespect to protest who knows what. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than to see Old Glory waving in the breeze of a September morning. It represents something a lot bigger and a lot more important than a football game.
Richard Pender is the senior vice commander of North Brunswick American Legion Post 459. He writes the occasional historical column for Newspaper Media Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.