There is a growing controversy surrounding the third verse to the Star Spangler Banner, our national anthem. The lyrics originate from “Defence of Fort M’Henry“, a poem written on September 14, 1814 by poet Francis Scott Key and the melody is borrowed from an old drinking song (To Anacreon in Heaven) was composed John Stafford Smith. But that controversial third verse is what’s troubling. See below:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The National Anthem Project, a government-sponsored program, was launched in 2005 after a poll showed many adults knew neither the lyrics nor the history of our national anthem.
The recent controversy over athletes not standing during our national anthem or placing their hand over their heart during the playing of our national anthem is nothing new. John Carlos and Tommie Smith were criticized for their Black Power salute on the podium during the 1968 Summer Olympics. Both have since received numerous accolades. Recently during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio Gabby Douglas was ridiculed on social media for not placing her hand over her heart during our national anthem. And now Colin Kaepernik is sitting down during our national anthem. Other athletes have joined the protest that include most recently U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe who knelt during our anthem. Rapinoe stated that Kaepernick’s stance extends beyond people of color. “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” Rapinoe said. In fact, I challenge you to take a look around when our national anthem is played at sporting events, etc. what you may see are numerous individuals seated, milling around or chatting it up during the playing of our national anthem. So why then have these individuals been singled out for their behavior as being controversial? Is it not our First Amendment right to free speech? Perhaps these individuals have a platform that reaches millions and the keepers of the status quo” keep a vigilante eye on those who may threaten it. They prefer the sheep to sleep or to remain totally distracted and a variety of methods are tactfully used to accomplish this. A single spark can ignite a forest fire that could upset their tranquil stability which holds a supremacy and privileged system together. But nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.
I encourage your comments and feedback.