In his recent missive, titled “Time to Turn Off the National Anthem Before
Sports Events,” Kevin Blackistone argues that the singing of the national anthem
at all sporting events has outlived its purpose. He submits that very few
Americans even know the song, and suggests that still fewer can recall why the
words were written in the first place. There’s nothing about playing tee-ball
that should stir memories of a lopsided British attack on Fort McHenry during
the War of 1812.
“Sports,” Blackistone writes, “have and continue to ritualize [the anthem] with barely a shred of relevance.”
Singing a song about soldiers raising a flag following hours of cannon bombardment may have little to do with the indoor soccer game parents are watching, but that same song does remind everyone at that game that they stand there because of American sacrifice.
Blood was shed so that we might be free. And when we all say that soldiers “will never be forgotten,” that’s how we honor and commemorate their lives that traveled to death in the name of their country. So that we might enjoy such relatively trivial activities such as tee-ball, lacrosse or even the Super Bowl.
Yes, pop icon Christina Aguilera flubbed the anthem on America’s grandest sports stage, but to use that episode as irrefutable proof the lyrics and meaning of the song have gone the way of eight-track tapes is ludicrous and inherently un-American.
Now the national anthem is offensive because it smacks of militarism, whatever that means?
Our national anthem is sung and remembered at major events because it is the pre-eminent song of our country. Just as we have a national bird, a national banner (Old Glory), a national tree and other mementos of what makes us distinctly American.
When you begin to tear down each one of these symbols, in the name of practicality, you nominally value what is intrinsically priceless — freedom. Sure, we can shave three extra minutes off of the World Series and get to the action. But at what cost? Isn’t the singing of the national anthem as old and as time-honored as baseball itself? Why would you rob a father of that moment when his son asks why dad took off his hat when they sang such a weird song?
Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside.