Thursday, July 5, 2012

Keep Our National Anthem

There are more and more people calling for our national anthem to be changed. They give various reasons, some of them have merit, most do not. Madison Rising, a rock band, is offering their rendition and a challenge. They'd like to have 1 million hits before Election Day 2012. Take a look here.

I'm one who does not want to change the anthem. It's been a part of the USA for far too many years. It's recognized around the world. Think how many decades it would take for a brand new one to earn that same recognition. Yes, it's not the easiest song to sing but it has meaning in its words. More people need to learn the history of when and how it was written. Watch a video to learn about it. Or google 'history of The Star Spangled Banner' to find many links.

There have been many instances when I've been overwhelmed with emotion when our anthem was  sung. But two of them stand out. Oddly enough, both happened in France.

Ken and I visited a WWII American cemetery in southern France while with a tour group two years ago. Three veterans in our group participated in a wreath laying ceremony in an open-air chapel on the cemetery grounds. After they had laid the flowers on the altar, our tour director asked that we sing our anthem. A few people started slowly, and more joined in. The voices grew stronger as the song continued by the forty-two Americans. I tried to join in but was so overwhelmed with emotion that I absolutely could not sing. Instead, I listened as this group of Americans sang the anthem with pride that we'd all learned as children in school. A story I wrote about the experience was published on Veterans Day in a senior newspaper.

Later, on this same tour, fourteen of us had dinner in a French home. Our hosts were a retired doctor and his wife who spoke no English. I had three years of high school French back in the early '50's so ended up being the translator for both our hosts and our tour group. A translator of sorts! I struggled for words, reaching back into my memory bank to pull them out, but the longer we were there, and the more wine we had, the easier it became. After much back and forth and a lot of laughs, the tone grew serious. Our hostess asked me to have the group sing our national anthem. I translated and noted the look of surprise on the faces of many of the Americans. Chairs scraped on the floor of the screened-in porch where we were eating as fourteen people rose. One person started the familiar words and the rest soon joined in. We sang with gusto, and I noted the broad smiles of our host couple as they listened to us, and my heart swelled with pride. As the Americans sat down, I turned to our hosts and requested that they now sing their national anthem for us. They beamed as they stood and sang  La Marseillaise.

That old Don't mess with success comes to mind when talk begins about changing our national anthem. I'd like to keep it just as it is. How about you?

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