Football season is over, capped off by a celebrity who flubbed the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Here’s a thought. Why don’t we go back to having everyone sing it? Then it wouldn’t matter if someone sings the wrong line, or sings slightly off-key, or has to lay out because they can’t hit the high note. No one would notice.
Even at high school football and basketball games, it’s usually a choir ensemble or soloist who sings the national anthem while the rest of us stand at attention, likely thinking about whether or not we have a shot at winning the game. I admit, I’ve heard some talented young people performing. My favorite was a varsity basketball player who stepped out of his line-up and sang an inspired rendition a capella.
But when did we start letting celebrities do what we should be doing for ourselves? Was it sometime after 9-11? Because I have a hard time imagining U.S. citizens remaining silent during the singing of the national anthem in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on our country. Have we become complacent? Lazy? It just seems like having someone else sing the national anthem is a bit like relying on the pastor or priest to do all our praying for us.
I confess I’m guilty of remaining silent. Usually I mouth the words or hum it so softly that no one can hear me. And I’m ashamed that I’m not bolder about my country’s anthem. I spent my high school years in band playing an instrument at the beginning of football and basketball games while others sang the Star-Spangled Banner.
Football season in southeastern Wisconsin can get pretty cold. Marching with a brass instrument made it even worse, especially since our band uniforms didn’t include gloves. Whenever we complained about having to play in near freezing temperatures, our band director would tell a story about years earlier when he was directing the Star-Spangled Banner at a football game. In the middle of the song, one of his trumpet players pulled his horn down to his side and started singing along with the crowd. Soon after that, a trombone player did the same thing. Before the song ended, several more brass players were holding their instruments at their side and belting out the words of the national anthem. The director was rather perturbed about this until he found out that the horns had frozen up.
“When it gets that cold, you won’t have to play,” he told us.
It never did get that cold but that story stuck with me. I wonder–if that happened nowadays, would students bother to sing along? Would they even know the words?
Ever since I graduated and left my band days behind, I’ve always enjoyed singing the Star Spangled Banner. It’s as if I’m making up for those days when I couldn’t. I used to be able to find a few people singing but lately, I’m too self-conscious to sing all by myself.
If you think we should go back to singing the national anthem ourselves and not rely on others to honor our country for us, look for me at the next game and we can sing together. Maybe we can start a trend.