Friday, September 10, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand and join me in the singing of our National Anthem

Last night I watched the Opening Game of the 2010 NFL Season. There was all the accompanying hoopla and hype. There was also the singing of the National Anthem. The singer was Colbie Callait. I don't really keep up with the current contemporary music of the day so I am not familiar with her music. However, her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was painful to me. Too many times I have seen and heard our National Anthem torn to shreds by artists who put their own spin on it. I say enough is enough.

I am of the persuasion that our National Anthem should be sung as it was written to be sung. This is a tradition that should not be changed. Do you see any other countries changing how their anthems are sung or performed? I doubt it. There is a reason for that.

I think it's okay to put a personal leaning on it, but not to the point where it is unrecognizable as our National Anthem. It is not just another song. It is a poem that was written by Washington lawyer Francis Scott Key from a British naval ship during the War of 1812, where he had been sent to secure the release of a Maryland doctor who was being held there. The British had captured Washington, DC and were marching toward Baltimore but had to go through Fort McHenry to do it.

His historic poem is actually a question to the listener, "Please tell me, can you still see our flag?" on the morning after the battle, which raged through the night. He heard bomb blast after bomb blast and saw the rockets racing through the sky, and was anxious to know if Fort McHenry had been able to hold off the British. When he saw the flag flying over the Fort, he was inspired and wrote his poem, which was set to music and eventually became our "Star Spangled Banner" National Anthem.

It is by and large one of the most difficult songs to sing and it takes a skilled singer to do it justice. I believe that is part of the reason why it should remain as it was originally penned and set to music. The challenge of the song is well befitting the challenge that faced those brave souls at Fort McHenry that night. And it is well befitting the challenges that faced our brave souls who have fought in the past and those who fight in the present and will fight in the future... to secure the blessings of the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. My father, God rest his soul, served in the US Army in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. As an Army brat, I have been raised to respect and honor what our military has done and to be a patriot.

It is merely a song, yes. But it represents the core of bravery, courage under fire, heroism in the face of mortal danger... the core upon which this country was founded. It is a core that we must not forget.

Ultimately, that is why I believe the Star Spangled Banner should be regarded with honor and dignity, with all due respect to its originator and author... and why every effort should be made to preserve it intact. And I believe that as some have suggested, the National Anthem should be sung by all when it is sung at the opening of ball games across this country. We could all use practice and maybe, just maybe it will have the effect it was originally intended to have. One of pride and patriotism. One of stepping up to the plate. One of heroism in a day and age where fake heroes are made in Hollywood and the real ones live daily lives of anonymity.

The real heroes are on the battlefield. The real heroes are in our schools, still teaching our children when the odds are stacked against them. The real heroes are raising kids at home. The real heroes are serving others who need a helping hand. The real heroes are everyday people. The ones who show up day after day and do whatever it takes to keep their families fed, clothed, warm and dry. The real heroes are the ones who get kicked in the teeth and knocked off their feet but they get back up to fight another day. The real heroes are moms, dads, sisters, brothers... all the people that shape our lives so that we can become the best we can be.

Yes, our country has had its share of problems and some of its history is downright shameful. However, there is so much about this country's rich history that is good. I, for one, want to remember it and believe it is important to pass on from generation to generation. I think it is a mistake to throw out the baby with the bath water by just chucking it all for something new.

Some things are better left in their original state. Such is the Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem.

God bless America.

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