To The Daily Sun,
Whenever Veterans Day approaches, I get into my usual mood of wondering how the time will get celebrated around the country.
At sporting events especially, at the professional level, we will be graced by a performer singing our national anthem, while thousands of fans with stand mute. Of course, this is not unusual, for it is done all the time at sports venues. The thing that makes it really difficult is that we probably will not know the tune anyway. Being a special day makes no difference anymore in terms of our anthem.
I was at Fenway Park on Armed Forces Day one year and looked forward to our national anthem. Disappointment came quickly, however, when a member of the military sang it in a tune no one else could sing.
On July 4, 2013, 15 people sang in 15 baseball parks while hundreds of thousands stood quietly, not having the opportunity to honor our country.
For anyone who would like to learn the background of this phenomenon, you could log on to the New York Times, July 3, 2013, a four-page article by James C. McKinley Jr. It is titled "O say can you sing at the ball park?" You hear people say, "It's too hard to sing" which is a misnomer. The performers didn't like to sing it the way it is, because it is too dull, so over the years they created their own renditions which brought applause and more recognition, all of which has nothing to do with patriotism. In fact, these presentations dishonor our anthem and our flag, because they go together.
Dishonor one, dishonor the other. The anthem is marketed all over the country. People have auditions, send in tapes, and politic to have the "honor."
The anthem became pre-game entertainment years ago, and really has become a spectator sport. This is not what it's supposed to be.
I heard so much complaining about this, that three and a half years ago I started a project to try to alter this. I do have a lot of material, but not being adept on the internet it is difficult.
On Monday night football several years ago, I heard a 12-year-old girl, well-known around the country, sing the anthem. The crowd yelled and clapped the whole time, right to the end. Patriotism?
I realize this letter is quite disjointed. I'm just picking out segments of what I've collected.
I was at Fenway Park another time when the Red Sox were playing Toronto. A choral group from there sang "O Canada" beautifully and were invited to sing our anthem. In the center field area, I found myself the only one singing. They received a well-deserved applause. While I was singing, I received looks from young kids whose eyes seemed to ask, "What are you doing?" How sad! I talked to a father after the game and asked why everyone sings "Take me out to the ballgame" and "Sweet Caroline," but nobody sings the anthem. He thought for a moment and said, "We are too programmed." He mentioned that he and his dad are veterans, called his daughter over, and told her from then on, they sing.
I sent Fox & Friends three overnight letters one Saturday. No reply. On Fox News in the middle of one day, the commentator said, "Stand by for an incredible rendition of the national anthem by a 15-year-old boy. Of course, I did, and was stunned by what I heard. It was butchered as badly as I've ever heard. I don't blame the boy, but do those who exploited him, and they, by allowing this, dishonored greatly our national anthem, our flag, and the 400,000 who gave their lives and were wounded in World War II and all the other wars and still do today. That episode went all over the country. I have written numerous times to the Red Sox. Three years ago I received a note from the Fenway Ambassador saying, "Bill, many people feel as you do!"
The Super Bowl 2015 anthem rendition was a disgrace. Millions of Americans, plus over 200,000 military personnel overseas stood in silence as the lone performer furthered her career. The opera singer at the Super Bowl a few years ago was magnificent. Just think if she had invited everyone watching to sing, what an impact there would have been! Those who performed at the last Rose Bowl did not do one thing for patriotism.
In the Louisiana/Lafayette Women's NCAA regional softball tournament, an announcement was made that the anthem was not going to be played, so the people sang it. The explanation: it was played before the first game. (However, the spectators would be different at each game.)
A Marine colonel in Afghanistan, after a tirade to those who dishonor the anthem, ended his message by saying, "Sing the 'Star Spangled Banner' with courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America, not you."
In Shelburne, Vt., a youth baseball tournament was being played and they couldn't get the recorder going. The crowd got impatient and sang it themselves. The comment heard mostly was, "Why don't we do this all the time?"
Our country is fragmented for a plethora of reasons. Military events are ongoing around the country. Patriotism is felt at those places.
As a nation, however, I think our nation is at its lowest ebb since I can remember. Two things that could help. One is that we, the people, sing our anthem, or have the opportunity to do so, and secondly the original tune is always used. Every time we do this, we will be standing together, male and female, young and old, people of all colors, races, and religions. For about 50 seconds.
It's beyond the time when the professional sports teams should have closed the doors to their talent agencies, and reopened the door to patriotism.