Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Rockets' Red Glare

                As Americans we just celebrated our 238th birthday as a nation. Our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, has a line in it that goes like this: “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that out flag was still there.” In 1814, during the War of 1812 in which the British attempted to defeat the upstart colonists who had sent them packing some thirty-odd years earlier, a young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was detained on board a British ship during the bombardment of Baltimore. Key wrote a poem entitled, Defense of Fort McHenry. The poem was later put to the tune of John Stafford Smith’s song, The Anacreontic Song, modified somewhat, and retitled The Star Spangled Banner. It was proclaimed by Congress to be our National Anthem in 1931.

The rockets mentioned in the National Anthem were British made Congreve rockets, first produced in 1804. Shortly after, the first solid fuel rockets were developed and later employed by British war ships during the War of 1812. You guessed it! They gave off a red streak as they zipped through the air. Often times these rockets would explode in mid-air before reaching their intended target. That’s the “rockets’ red glare, bombs bursting in air” part of the anthem.

Such historical trivia may seem somewhat dull to those unaware of the devastation of rockets. This form of warfare has an incapacitating effect on the psyche of those on the receiving end of a rocket attack. Such was certainly the case during the early period of our nation, and particularly during the War of 1812. These rockets were not very effective in causing damage or death, but they sure scared folks a whole lot. I remember rocket attacks in Vietnam. You hunkered down and pulled your helmet down on your head as far as possible and hoped for the best!

This all leads to a bit of current information that I believe you will find of interest.

Following the news, as is my habit, I have been aware for many years that Israel is attacked daily with rockets from the Palestinian areas surrounding Israel, primarily out of the Gaza Strip. These rocket attacks occur every single day. That’s right: Every single day. Multiple times a day. The rocket of choice used by Islamic terrorists is the Qassam (Kassam). The Qassam rocket gained notoriety as the best-known type of rocket deployed by the Palestinian militants mainly against Israeli civilians.

Hamas and other militant Islamic groups operate terrorist activities against Israel from the Gaza Strip. The terrorism-of-choice previously was the suicide bomber. This person would typically strap hand-grenades and/or sticks of dynamite to their bodies, blend in with a large group of people (as long as there were lots of Jews in the crowd) at which point the suicide bomber would set off the explosives causing death and mayhem. Often a secondary explosion would be electronically ignited from a distance once the emergency personnel arrived, causing even more death and destruction.

In recent years, the terrorists seem to prefer the Qassam rocket. Apparently it had become harder and harder to recruit volunteers to kill themselves by suicide bombings. With the use of rockets (and mortars) there is no loss of life for the terrorists. The rockets are not difficult to make, and can be easily transported to their launching site.

Since the rocket attacks began in 2001, there have been more than 10,000 rockets launched, and nearly 5,000 mortars into Israel. Most of these attacks occur in southern Israel. To appreciate what this means, Israel is slightly smaller than our State of New Jersey. Can you imagine what an outcry there would be if an enemy of the United States launched rockets and mortars into our country daily for weeks, months, and years?

Hamas and their ilk always downplay the attacks by suggesting that only a handful of Israelis have died from these rocket attacks. What is not mentioned is the psychological effect such attacks have brought to bear on the citizens of southern Israel. Some statistics suggest that 50% of Israeli children in these rocketed areas are experiencing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a nervous condition creating psychological problems coping with everyday life due to the stress and uncertainty of “rockets of death” landing in their back yards.

Just recently I downloaded an app for my cell phone called Red Alert. Its primary purpose is to send a notification to the app every time a rocket is launched into Israel, and what town was targeted. It is Saturday night as I write this. I counted the number of attacks posted on this app for Saturday alone. The number: 17.

There is a biblical admonition to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” (Psalm 122:6-9). Let’s include the eight million plus residents in the State of Israel as well.

Please pray.

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