PCP: National anthem
In recent years, use of the national anthem has been called into question
October 25, 2021
National anthem no longer reflects intended values
Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2016 by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, controversy has only grown surrounding the use of the national anthem before sporting events. The anthem no longer publicly represents the values that it intends to, and as such, should no longer be played.
Originating at the end of World War I, the national anthem was sung before baseball games in order to recognize those serving in the war. This sentiment holds true today, even in non-wartimes, with the goal of the anthem being to pay respect to veterans and active service members.
However, that is seldom what is actually thought of when the anthem is sung. Sprouting from a host of racist ideals, the anthem, its author and its origins have all rightfully come under scrutiny. Although those are not the ideals that are meant to be displayed when playing the anthem today, those are the ideas that now come to mind.
Education on the history of the anthem is paramount, and where we came from as a country should never be forgotten. But playing an anthem that is predicated on immoral values before every game of every sport is not the solution.
We are a nation that was designed to change with the times, and that is what we should do. Our cultures, ideas and values have changed, and the way we celebrate those should too.”
— Colin Canaday
There are plenty of alternative ways to celebrate veterans and active duty service members. For instance, a moment of silence could be used instead — maintaining the same purpose and time for reflection. We are only confined by ourselves on how we want to celebrate and respect these people; the possibilities are endless.
At a high school level, at least in Minnesota, the national anthem is not even required to be played. Yet, around the country, high schools face criticism for not playing it. Playing the anthem has become so ingrained in culture that anyone who strays or decides they would not like to participate is publicly shunned. While, in an ideal world, students and people are able to make these types of decisions and stand up for what they believe in, however, we do not live in that type of world.
Times have changed since World War I, and for the better. The national anthem and the culture it created are over 100 years old, and are a wonderful representation of history, but that is where they should remain. We are a nation that was designed to change with the times, and that is what we should do. Our cultures, ideas and values have changed, and the way we celebrate those should too.
National anthem is an opportunity for reflection
I feel proud to play the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Park’s football games. It makes me feel connected to the students around me. When we all listen to the national anthem together, it supports the idea that we are all equally American, regardless of race, gender, sexuality or citizenship status.
The anthem has become increasingly controversial. According to the Washington Post, Francis Scott Key, the writer of the lyrics of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” was a slave owner who expressed blatantly racist views. The third verse of the anthem, which I’ve never heard sung, also has racist connotations. However, doing away with the anthem is unwise. Erasing the anthem is erasing history. If I never learn about the racist past of America, then I will be ignorant. It is important to acknowledge the racist past and present of our country so that we can learn from it.
Playing the national anthem is an opportunity to reflect on the ideals of freedom and equality that America was supposedly founded upon. Although I’ve been told that our Founding Fathers wanted equality, I’ve learned that they were hypocritical. Many of them were racist slave owners. The national anthem is time to consider how we fall short of these goals time and time again. The anthem motivates me to become a better person and to fight for justice in our nation.
Instead of eliminating the “Star-Spangled Banner,” it could be played and accompanied by Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is often referred to as the Black national anthem. This would lift the voices of the African American students while also allowing for the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
When we all listen to the national anthem together, it supports the idea that we are all equally American.”
— Sophia Curran-Moore
Furthermore, the “Star-Spangled Banner” honors veterans who are of all races and backgrounds and served the United States. Soldiers often contend with financial and emotional struggles. According to the National Association of American Veterans, there are about 4.8 million veterans with disabilities in the United States. It’s important to recognize their contributions to the home of the brave so they feel respected. The anthem is a reminder to not seek violence unless it’s necessary.
The national anthem also encourages teamwork and persistence, which is why it is particularly fitting at sport events. The founding of the United States required cooperation and resilience, and the image of the American flag still standing, even after the perilous fight, embodies that. Bands and choirs that perform the national anthem must work together to create music. All of the different instruments serve a purpose in the music. Similarly, sports require athletes to set aside their differences to work together toward a common goal. Athletes must persevere and rebound from failures. This assortment of people coming together to achieve greatness is what America strives for.
Unlike the Pledge of Allegiance, the “Star-Spangled Banner” does not mention God, which makes it more inclusive. Beyond that, students have every right to not participate in the anthem if they wish not to.
In conclusion, it is beneficial to play the national anthem at sports games. It’s an opportunity for athletes and attendees to think about how they can better the country.