Reason for Pride in Our National Anthem

Here comes baseball season with all of its traditions, among them the National Anthem. Knowing the history of our tradition of the National Anthem being played and/or sung before sporting events is not likely to have an influence of those who dishonor and disrespect it. However, it gives insight with which to consider their action.

In September 102 years ago America was deeply divided.  There were more divisions caused by immigration and race than today. It was a schism greater than today. World War I had resulted in passionate hatred of Germans. The streets were filled with protesters.

The much needed healing began in of all places a World Series baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.

At the end of the 6th inning in a most unusual move the band began to play The Star Spangled Banner. Fred Thomas, a Red Sox player on furlough from the Navy whose grandfather was from the Hesse region of Germany, removed his cap and stood at attention. Others joined by doing the same and  gradually a few in the stands began to stand and sing. Soon others joined in by  placing their right hand over their heart and singing. At the end the crowd erupted in cheers. The resurgence of national pride was begun with that song. It was seen as a means of showing togetherness. 

The Red Sox started having it played at all games. Other sports joined in the practice. It shortly became an emotional, patriotic, and prideful  healing.

It wasn’t long until the NFL began having it played before all games.  The song had come to typify America as one nation under God.  At the end of World War II the NFL Commissioner Elmer Laden, declared we must never forget what it stands for. He further stated it should be as much of a part of every game as the kickoff. 

In 1931 President Hoover signed a bill making The Star Spangled Banner the official National Anthem. 

Some are now using the anthem to divide us by focusing on a line in the third stanza referring to “No refuge could save the hireling and slave.” It is being said it references the Colonial Marines, consisting of former slaves fighting with the British. The Colonial Marines were looked at not as blacks, but as British enemies. If it does refer to the Colonial Marines, it should be remembered they were fighting against the United States. It is not an all-inclusive condemnation of all blacks of all times. 

Let’s not fail to remember many slaves courageously fought with the United States, thinking it to be the side offering them the best chances of eventual freedom from slavery. It did though unfortunately and unfairly, it was too long coming.

In recent times some have misunderstood that one line and have found cause to disclaim the rest of the anthem. It can once again be a uniting force if we stress instead these healing lines:

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

As the NLF Commissioner said, we must never forget what it stands for, that being we are one nation under God.