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A Modest Proposal July 5, 2011

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

I just got back from watching the fireworks with a friend, followed by a bit of a post-show mini-celebration amongst ourselves. I actually choked up at “The Stars And Stripes Forever”: I’m like that, I guess. I know the lyrics to the chorus, and so that piece is more than just a marching band song with a piccolo section solo. “Let despots remember the day, when our fathers with mighty endeavor, proclaimed as they marched to the fray, that by their might and by their right it was forever.” Anyway. I love my Nation–it’s just my government that drives me nuts. But I’d better not get started on that one.

Anyway, after the show was over, we got to talking about a lot of Americana, and the subject eventually turned to patriotic songs. There’s a lot of ’em. But then “God Bless America” came up, and I mentioned that seeing Lauren Hart and Kate Smith doing a duet on that during the playoffs almost makes me want to be a Flyers fan when I see it. (I said almost.)

If I understand the NHL’s rules correctly, the pregame anthem doesn’t necessarily have to be “The Star-Spangled Banner.” So, “America the Beautiful,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” or even “God Bless the USA” (if completed in under 90 seconds) should be just as acceptable.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because Caps fans don’t seem to get this whole “loudly, proudly, and respectfully” thing. The “Red!” is selfish, and that Baltimore “O!” has needed to go for years. If When we make the Stanley Cup Finals, they’re going to show the anthems on national television. Do we really want to act so churlishly toward our own national anthem? On national television?

Not trying to get too current-events-y here, but I know there are a lot of Americans out there who think Washington is generally out of touch with America. Disrespecting the national anthem is about as out of touch with America is it gets, I must humbly submit.

I hate to propose this, but “The Star Spangled Banner” may need to go. I hate typing that, because that’s The Song of the United States: it’s sacred, for heaven’s sake. But what I hate even above typing that proposal, is hearing such a sacred song get desecrated, night after night after night. Our Nation, and our Anthem, deserve better–and especially in the nation’s capital. And if fans here can’t respect our nation’s anthem, and if NHL rules permit other patriotic songs to be rendered, then that’s what we need to do.

A couple of standards spring immediately to mind: “America” (“My country, ’tis of thee…”) and “America the Beautiful” (“O beautiful for spacious skies…”) I don’t feel the need to explain these: they’re patriotic standards for a reason.

For those with a more modern bent, there’s “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. Yes, it’s doable in under 90 seconds. In fact, Greenwood’s original rendition, first verse and chorus, runs about 62 seconds, and it’s not exactly allegro. A slightly quicker tempo could very easily fit in under a minute, and lowering it by a couple of keys would make it more singable by the entire crowd.

Unfortunately, I suspect this idea will be dead on arrival, assuming anyone with any say in the matter even sees it to begin with. I don’t propose it lightly, and I don’t propose it for transient reasons. The yapping during the anthem–in my view, an act of utter disrespect to anthem and country–has been going on for years. “Loudly, proudly, and respectfully” gets about as much compliance as a “No Smoking” sign in Guangzhou (or, for that matter, all the “no scalping” signs around Verizon Center, but that’s a whole other, other rant.)

We need to be serious about honoring America during the time of game so designated for such purpose. And if “The Star-Spangled Banner” is going to continue getting less respect than Rodney Dangerfield, and if other patriotic songs are permitted, then we need a new song to honor America–and I mean honor it–at Verizon Center.



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