A New National Anthem

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I am a patriot. I served the country as an outstanding civilian for over three decades. As president of the Greater Indianapolis Federal Executive Association, representing 24,000 civilian and military personnel, I pledged allegiance then and still do now. Although, I crafted words that I feel are more appropriate than the words of Francis Bellamy.

Some of my fellow Americans wonder why it is necessary or appropriate to protest civil injustice by taking a knee at a professional sporting event, namely the NFL games. Players also “take a knee” when any player, teammate or opposition, is injured on the field of play.

The current anthem is a source of division and derision and should not be the cause, as it is now, of such discord. Pride in country should be evident and not dependent upon hoisting a flag to assure you are a worthy citizen. No one knows for certain what is in the heart of a citizen who displays patriotism when it is mandatory or subjects the citizen to being ostracized.

So let me ask this: When is it most appropriate to protest? While being beaten, strangled or shot by an employee of the government?

Should Rosa Parks have waited until the bus was practically empty of white folks and plenty of seats available for people of color? Should LGBTQ people at the Stonewall Inn have waited until after the police left to complain about discriminative treatment by the government? Should the physically disadvantaged among us have waited until it was more convenient? “You women will get the right to vote; just be patient, will ya? This is not the time.” Should the indigenous peoples of this land have waited to be herded onto reservations before seeking justice? It is always the right time for justice and equality in this nation because there will never be a better time.

When in the hell is it convenient and appropriate to demonstrate grievances against the government or all of society for that matter? After the pens have dried on bills that further discriminate?

Those seeking justice will always “use what is at hand”; we will strive to “bloom where we are planted”; we will voice grievances when it is not convenient because to the oppressor it is never the right time or convenient. The only time Jesus talked about silence and going into the closet was when it came to prayer. For protests, he was very public and in-your-face.

We cannot relegate redress of grievance and protests to the closet; that serves no purpose to change public hearts and minds. It must be public, and it must be by the people for the people! The Boston Tea Party did not occur offstage. Convenient protest is no protest at all. A dynamic statement is of no value when made in oblivion.

Dissenters love our country just as others do; they simply want progress, so it can be all it can be. The arc of history may bend toward justice but it always needs to be prodded along the journey.

Another thing: Why do we play the Star-Spangled Banner before athletic contests? I cannot find a statute that calls for such. Why is the anthem not played before a play or opera or a triathlon or skeet-shooting or motion picture viewing?

Why must the descendants of former slaves stand, kneel, listen to, or participate in any form to a song that contains these words in the third verse: "No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave"?

Surely, we can find a more suitable song as the anthem for these United States. Past atrocities and current lack of equal justice remain evident but at least we can offer a better anthem to which all Americans can take pride. There are so many more patriotic and love of country songs that are far better for singing.

When allegiance to a song with bad sentiments is forcibly imposed, it is meaningless.

The NFL should abandon the idea. Let the players remain off the field if it is going to be played for the fans so their allegiance is not called into question. Watch as those in the audience ignore, chew gum, eat, drink, and move about while the song is played. Those at home, I suspect, don’t even stand. For far too many, it has become ho-hum.

Stop playing the degrading and difficult-to-sing song at games. Better yet, choose a more inclusive National Anthem. Play it only on special occasions like Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Independence Day. That would go far in instilling national pride and patriotism. It is not contradictory to love your country and want it to be better.

The United States is divided as nearly as we were surrounding the Civil War. How about commissioning the writing of a new National Anthem that can truly unite this fractured yet still superior example of national diversity and instill national pride? Then, with national pride, reverence and patriotism, we shall ALL proudly stand! God knows we need it.

It is time for a new National Anthem. One that speaks for all. One that embraces the land of the free and the home of the brave.