There is something amazing about the Star Spangled Banner.
The drama starts in its range - the song spans an octave and a half. It continues with its lyrics, written by Francis Scott Key as he witnessed Fort McHenry being bombarded in the War of 1812. The lyrics look like this:
O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
I hadn't known previously that the poem ended in a question mark, and all of a sudden the American anthem became so much more potent to me. This was a man asking if the flag still stood, if the symbol of our freedom still waved in the air, not declaring it. Now, in our time, the onus is on us as a people to make sure that our flag still represents all that we stand for.
When I sang the national anthem, I was asked if I wanted accompaniment. I responded that I would rather sing a capella. The reason is this: the words of the Star Spangled Banner are reflective of our nation. The music is representative of our national pride. And so I choose to sing it bare-bones so that people can actually hear what I'm singing about. The distraction of the rock or pop versions of the Star Spangled Banner are not my preference - I prefer to give this incredibly important song the deference it deserves.
So why do I love to sing the national anthem? Because I like to remember what this country is all about in its purest sense, and to share that national pride with my fellow Americans.
What are your thoughts on the national anthem? What's your favorite version? Let me know in the comments below!