Hockey season is starting, and we will be making trips into Rhode Island to see a favorite AHL club. This will provide another occasion to consider our odd relationship with the national anthem. Heralded with proper solemnity ‘to honor America and those who serve defending our freedom’ as the announcer likes to say, the anthem is then torn to shreds by a group of eager, if tone deaf, middle or high school students or, on exceptionally unlucky occasions, elementary school pupils. Led by their hapless choral instructor, these sweet babies are asked to navigate the tune’s tricky intervals a capella. Disaster.
Of course, other states and other cities take a different tack, ‘honoring America, etc’ by employing a pop demi-star of the moment, who labors under the belief that the anthem needs to be ‘styled’. Alas, the intervals remain a problem that swoops and flutterings and style cannot surmount.
Other nations do it differently. They have professional singers, and, dare I say, easier tunes? Maybe for amateur singers, we could agree to go with America the Beautiful or that nice, inclusive Woody Guthrie ditty, This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land.