The most important verse of the Star-Spangled Banner

In these perilous times, when our present decisions affect the future of yet unborn generations, it is more necessary than ever for Americans to look to the past for insight. Below, you will find the original poem, "Star-Spangled Banner," by Francis Scott Key. Pay close attention to the last few paragraphs:

O say! can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night, that our flag was still there.
O say! does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream.
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner. O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home and war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n-rescued land
Praise the pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, "In God is our Trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

America has been fighting for freedom throughout the world almost since it's birth as a nation. Have America's foreign excursions been influenced by national interests, and, at times, greed? Of course. Could America run its wars and rebuilding efforts more efficiently and with less collateral damage? Absolutely. But to deny the overwhelmingly positive affect of America's influence on the world is to ignore the idealism at the heart of American exceptionalism. America has a heart, while the same cannot be said for the vast majority of States around the world. So, as terrible as this may sound to sensitive post-modern ears, "conquer we must, when our cause it is just." Pax Americana was built on overwhelming military supremacy, much as the Pax Romana was sustained by the overwhelming power of the legions of the empire. Keep this in mind the next time somebody tells you how awful the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were. As bad as the Islamic version of constitutional democracy may turn out to be, Sadaam and his totalitarian thugs are dead and scattered, and for some odd reason, you don't hear too much from bin Laden these days.