Here’s one for the books (but let’s hope not for the law books).
A Republican state legislator in Indiana has proposed a law making it illegal to sing or play our National Anthem in public schools in any manner that doesn’t conform to specific guidelines.
The story is HERE.
This issue presents an opportunity for me to repeat my frequent argument that our anthem is an awful song.
Oh, I know, I know. I’m inviting the wrath of the pseudo-patriots to whom dissing ”The Star-Spangled Banner” is tantamount to burning the American flag. But don’t misunderstand me. I’m all in favor of showing proper respect whenever the anthem is played or sung at a public event. I’m just as quick as the next guy to stand up, take off my hat and put my hand over my heart on such occasions. My problem is not so much with the rituals of decorum as with the song itself. It’s a bad song, and we could do much better with something else as our anthem.
I mean, think about it. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a poem written by a lawyer and set to the tune of an old British drinking song. Its range of one and a half octaves makes it damn near unsingable. And its violent imagery is not what this country is really all about.
Moreover, it’s not as if the Founding Fathers made the song our National Anthem. It’s iconic status is not the equal of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. In fact, it officially became our anthem only 11 years before I was born. During much of the 19th century, certain other hymns were informally accorded anthem status – “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “Hail, Columbia,” to name just two.
Personally, I think we’d better off with “God Bless America” as our National Anthem. It’s eminently more singable. Its lyrics aren’t so violent. And it mentions the deity, which the first stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner” does not.
Indeed, many’s the time in debates on this matter that I’ve check-mated some right-wing acquaintance with the argument that a song that celebrates America as home and invites God’s blessings is far preferable to some lawyer’s poem about glaring rockets and bursting bombs.
Come on. Sing it with me:
- While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
- Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
- Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
- As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
- God Bless America,
- Land that I love.
- Stand beside her, and guide her
- Through the night with a light from above.
- From the mountains, to the prairies,
- To the oceans, white with foam
- God bless America, My home sweet home
- God bless America, My home sweet home.