So. The radical left, and their allies in the mainstream media, are now telling us that we MUST change the national anthem, get a new one that isn’t so … uh, “racist,” and “sexist,” and so many other horrible things that 99 percent of us didn’t know about “The Star-Spangled Banner” until a couple of weeks ago.
I guess one thing that really grabbed their attention was learning that Francis Scott Key, who wrote the anthem, was a slave owner. That is supposed to obliterate any fame or respect ANYONE in American history previously had, starting with several of our early presidents and going right down the list. “He was a RACIST! He enslaved black people! Tear down his statues! Obliterate his name from college buildings! Change the name of anything that bears his HORRIBLE identification!” And so on.
These people would fit the dictionary definition of “crazy,” in my opinion. And that of many other people, too. They could be placed right in line with Muslim extremists who have destroyed the monuments and temples of other religious groups for hundreds of years. Or Josef Stalin, who blew up, burned or tore down thousands of Russian Orthodox cathedrals and churches in the early years of the Soviet Union. Destroying history is the stuff of people wanting a dictatorship, or the rulers in George Orwell’s book, “1984.”
However, having said all that, I’ll say that having a national anthem must not have been a top of the line item for many years of our republic, as Congress didn’t choose “The Star-Spangled Banner” until 1931 — 155 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Why did it take them so long? I’ve never been able to find any reasons for that. Of course, they had some wonderful songs to choose from, including the one they opted for. “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean” was always one of my favorites. Then there were “America” and “America the Beautiful” — not to mention “God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin, who was born in Russia but brought to the U.S. as a young child. I think if Congress, and the president, decided on a change, those should be at the top of the list.
Of course, some on the left are already suggesting such anthems as Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” or, “Imagine,” by John Lennon of the Beatles. Yes, Guthrie’s song, written a good many years ago, does have a patriotic ring to it, although there are left-wing aspects to the lyrics that I think would disqualify it in my book. As to “Imagine,” yes, it has a beautiful melody, but the lyrics are examples of leftist loonacy. And besides, John Lennon was NOT an American.
Now, there are reasons that I think “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be retired as our national anthem. And no, they don’t have anything to do with “Francis Scott Key was a racist” or any nonsense like that. For one thing, the story it tells all happened one night, is obscure to many people, and doesn’t make very much reference to our homeland, America. And besides, the song is difficult to sing, unless you’re an opera star. The chords make huge jumps from one verse to the next, and I think this is the main reason that we have evolved into standing silently, like graven images, while one professional singer — usually black nowadays — performs a solo of the song, taking whatever liberties they want with its melody.
That’s not right, folks. You don’t do your own “version” of a national anthem — especially ours. And a national anthem sung at a mass gathering, should be sung by everyone at once. It’s not supposed to be an “entertainment,” but a statement of love of country, of patriotism, of “we’re all in this together.” If you want to listen to a “solo,” go buy a CD.
As to replacements for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” well, my choice among the traditional American patriotic songs would be, “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” It dates from the 19th Century; has a beautiful melody, with a brisker beat than “The Banner,” and is easier for the average person to sing. Plus, the lyrics praise the history and national personality of America, in a way that the existing anthem does not.
But, I want to suggest another patriotic song, one from our own era, written by entertainer Lee Greenwood, who is still alive and singing, and writing songs, among us. Yes, folks, I’d like to nominate “God Bless the U.S.A.”
It was written by a popular country music performer and composer, and has been enormously popular among many millions of Americans since that day in the 1980s when it was first released. It speaks from the standpoint of a working-class man who tells us that even if he and his family lost everything they had, he would still be a proud and loving American, “because they can’t take that away.”
Now, think about that line. “They can’t take that away.” Since 1776 when we first declared our independence, we’ve gone through many hard, depressing times — the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and others. But we’ve never felt that we were “not Americans.” Even the residents of the Southern states during the Civil War still considered themselves Americans — just not aligned with the other, Northern states any more. And they fought hard for four years to try to make that secession last, although of course they finally lost. But keep this in mind: Their various flags, were always colored in Red, White and Blue.
“They can’t take that away”? Well, what if somehow a dictatorial group managed to win the presidential race this year? Do you think that, given the worst of circumstances for all us Americans, they couldn’t “take that away”? To me, that looks like a bigger threat than anything that I can remember in American politics.
Greenwood’s song names various areas of our country, a number of cities, and says other things that boil down to, “We’re in this together.” No mention of races — White, black, Asian, Native American — none of that. We’re all Americans.
I would hate to have to choose between “Columbia” and “God Bless the U.S.A.” But I think they would be the two best choices. Especially now. We’re fighting against each other, and often hating each other, at a frightful level right now. We need a new anthem, and we need to sing it together.
Because we’re all in this together.