Conflicts over the National Anthem

Siana Barrett and Luke Young

National Anthem Day, celebrated on March 3 commemorates the day our nation adopted the “Star Spangled Banner.”  It was nearly 117 years after Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics before the song was officially declared to be the nation’s national anthem by President Herbert Hoover on March 3, 1931.

Since 2016, much controversy surrounds this song.  Professional athletes have silently protested police brutality and racial inequality during the playing of the national anthem by kneeling instead of standing at attention. The demonstrations have generated mixed reactions in the nation. Some people have called the protests unpatriotic and disrespectful of our nation and flag.

The most recent upset involves Hollywood.  On February 18, 2018, singer Fergie sang the national anthem at the 67th NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles, California.

Fergie’s performance was unique and she has received a lot of backlash for it.  Aside from the hate, many viewers thought her performance was hilarious.  According to CNN, Fergie stated, “been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA.” She also stated, “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone.”

With all the backlash about her rendition of the national anthem and citizens pushing for a song name change, another question surfaces:  Should the national anthem be changed?

Mr. Garber, U.S. History instructor thinks that the national anthem is “fabulous,” and “doesn’t see why there should be a case” to change it.  Students and teachers agreed that Fergie’s re-rendition of the national anthem was terrible. Mr. Tate, security had nothing good to say about her performance while Zachary McCullough (9)made a polite comment about giving her credit for trying. Dasani Tate (11) agreed with his dad saying, “She should not sing it again.” Mr. Ordunez, Computer Tech described Fergie’s performance as “terrible” and “trying to do it and make it her own thing.”  

While many people agree that the national anthem should not be changed, many people have different opinions on the national anthem. McCullough stated that the national anthem “shows what our country is about,” while Mr. Tate said that it has been “done for so many years,” that he does not really have an opinion.

Mr. Ordunez brought up a valid point of the national anthem being “important and it shows unity.”  He also agrees that the national anthem should not be changed by stating, “What’s done is done, we’ve been doing it for so long.”

Many citizens are unaware that the song actually has a third stanza that mentions “the hireling and slave,” leading people to protest the song in general.  The verse is as follows:

“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.”

Mr. Garber stated, “I probably should have known there was the third stanza, but that is very interesting.”

When asked about the line of disagreement, people were confused by the line itself not giving a clear answer on their opinion of the line, although Mr. Tate did say, “This line is BS. The time period that this song was written in was how they thought. The way that people are taking this line is not right.” Others agreed with Mr. Tate, while others agreed that they could not quite understand this quote and could only pick up on its negative tone.  And they are not alone.  Many historians continue the debate between what Key’s really meant in these lines and how it relates to our time period now.

Some students have protested the national anthem by not standing during the flag salute each day during 4th period.  Has society lost respect in America and our patriotism for our nation?  Where do you stand on the issue?