Letter: There’s a better song for national anthem

Aug. 04, 2014 @ 05:41 PM


“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during the battle of Fort McHenry as it was being attacked by the British in the War of 1812.

His poem tells that “by the dawn’s early light,” he could see that our flag was still waving over the fort. He had not lost the battle. This poem shows the pride in our ability to defend our flag and our country.

Should such a “war song” be our national anthem? It gives to millions who sing it the notion that the only real patriotism is warlike activity. No one questions the beauty and the power of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” There are occasions when this stirring song should be sung, but these are not everyday occasions. Real patriotism must be as much concerned with peace as it is with war.

Just so long as “The Star-Spangled Banner” is made the symbol of patriotism, just so long will it be difficult to convey the broader ideals of patriotism — love of home, neighborliness, good citizenship, pride in worthy accomplishment, regard for those great builders who have made our county what it is and an eagerness to emulate them.

These elements are found in Katharine Lee Bates’ “America the Beautiful.”

If we have a national anthem, it should be one whose effect upon our mental and spiritual development will be in keeping with real patriotism. 

The “Star-Spangled Banner” suggests that patriotism is associated with killing and being killed, with great noise and clamor, with intense hatreds and fury and violence. Patriotism may, on very rare occasions, involve all of these, but not everyday life.

No better patriotic song has been written than “America the Beautiful.”

Morgan Briggs

Pigeon Forge