"God Bless America" is for sissies

Can I just tell you how much it irritates me that “God Bless America” seems to have become our minor league national anthem–the national anthem for folks who can’t quite bring themselves to like “The Star Spangled Banner”?

“God Bless America” is for sissies. It’s for people who like certainty and ease of singing and easy-to-identify-with but meaningless imagery and any efforts, serious or half-hearted to change our national anthem to it ought to be met with a great deal of laughter.

Give me something hard to sing and full of uncertainty. Give me something from the point of view of someone fearful but brave. Give me a song with proof that we can survive terrible times right there in the middle of it. Give me a song that doesn’t locate our essence in the blessing or lack thereof of the same Guy who everyone else thinks is on their side.

In other words, keep giving me what we’ve got. We’ve already got the perfect national anthem, one that implies a great deal about our national essence and nothing about the outward trappings.

Seriously, look at this again, and tell me it’s not perfect:

Oh, 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?

7 thoughts on “"God Bless America" is for sissies

  1. Yes, I’ve always liked the SSB, even though I can’t sing it well. Then again, I can’t sing anything well.

    I am also partial to America the Beautiful. Most people don’t know but the first verse, but the others are quite stirring as well. I love the imagery it evokes.

    Every so often there is a push to make that the national anthem. The SSB wasn’t declared the officail one until the 30s (?) I believe. But it’ll never happen.

  2. In high school, I sang the National Anthem at Busch Stadium before a Cardinals game. Well, not all by myself. There were about 80 other folks from the combined choirs of my high school and another one.

    The thing I remember most, and that gives me the greatest respect for those who sing that thing by themselves down there, is the echo. We stood behind home plate, and we heard our voices coming from way out in center field maybe two or three seconds after we sang. Try keeping your concentration when you hear what you just sang throughout the whole song.

  3. a big ditto. well said, as usual.

    i also don’t like the idea of our sense of national pride being specifically attached to either a) a deity; or b) what our country looks like. i know we love the beautiful people, but america isn’t america specifically because of its beauty. lots of countries are nice to look at.

  4. I beg to differ. It’s about the silliest national anthem ever. To paraphrase its lyric:
    Is the flag still there? It was there when it got dark last night, but then we popped off some rounds and some stuff caught fire– is the flag still there?

    I mean REALLY, people…some guy is too damn lazy to look out the window…

    On second thought, maybe this unsingable tribute to intellectual laziness, male privilege, and artillery during a largely forgotten war is a pretty good better capsule description of our national condition…

  5. See? It’s the national anthem that keeps on giving. Just when you think it couldn’t be any more appropriate, it reveals itself at a whole nother level.

  6. Chills.

    I hadn’t thought of in in quite that way, about fiercely hoping and waiting for dawn all through a dark and perilous night. All too apt, these days. It’s a song for survivors, yes.

  7. I know bridgett was being funny, but seriously: sonetimes you can’ even SEE the flag, even if it’s right there. The whole idea is that it’s almost impossible to see what’s going on through the smoke, dust and glare of the flames.

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