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National anthem is a national treasure

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The national anthem is an outdated piece of Americana with lyrics that have long outlived their day and an octave range that far outdistances most of us. It is, by any measure, a fairly dismal piece of music. It has been butchered in more public settings than you can count and, according to a new survey, cannot be recited by over 60 percent of the public.

But by golly, it is a symbol and a national treasure. Like it or not, it's ours and it shouldn't be shared with a Spanish version nor any other language under the sun. Despite its flaws, it can still bring a tear and stir a sense of national pride. And well it should.

I once attended a sporting event in Canada and stood with the rest of the fans as the Canadian national anthem was performed. The Canadian fans stood in unison and proudly sang along. And truthfully, their anthem is a much more pleasing sound than ours. But it's theirs and we have ours. That's exactly the way it should be.

I found some great humor in a little biting piece of journalism this week when a TV reporter asked members of Congress to recite the national anthem. Those humbled politicians were just as clueless as the rest of the public and few knew all of the words in the right order. Thankfully, they were not asked to sing.

The problem of course is that once you attack a symbol, you might as well be attacking the nation itself. And in some ways, that's exactly what the Hispanic movement over immigration is doing. Regardless of your view on the topic of immigration, it is just wrong for someone wanting to alter a symbol of this nation just as it would be wrong for Americans to want to change a symbol of the Mexican government.

Let me put it this way. Try traveling to Iraq today and playing some Spanish version of the national anthem and see what the reaction is among our fighting forces. Those brave men and women have more at stake right now and I'd be willing to bet they have a few choice words about tampering with our anthem.

In the debate over immigration, the discussion on the national anthem is a small but not insignificant aspect. Change may be inevitable, we're told. But that doesn't mean change is always for the best. A symbol is important not for what it is but for what it represents.



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen