Time for a new national anthem

Updated: Monday, July 14, 2014
Time for a new national anthem story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The latest World Cup, with its drama, athleticism, controversy  and passion seems to be opening the eyes of lots of Americans as to why futbol--we call it soccer--is the most popular sport in the world.

ESPN’s ratings are up, thousands are gathering at outdoor locations to watch it on giant screens, and today thousands of Americans were said to have called in sick so they could stay home and watch the USA play Germany.

Tonight, in Tom’s Corner, our Tom Van Howe says the games have also inspired him to lobby for a new national anthem.

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If you’ve been watching, you may have noticed that when the national anthems of the 32 teams who qualified for this years world cup are played before each game, the players sing.

They really sing! They’re into it. And the fans, from the audaciously dressed with face paint to those who look like they’re on their way to lunch, also really sing.

From Costa Rica to Japan, and from France to Cameroon,  its an incredible display of nationalism and pride.

But--and I’m not sure what it means, but--when it comes to the United States and the Star Spangled Banner, our guys just don’t muster the same enthusiasm.

It just isn’t there.

Some of them do sing, some seem to be mouthing the words, and some don’t even do that.

Maybe its because the Star Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key during the British bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, is hard to sing. It covers one-and-a-half octaves and lots of people know from the get-go they’re not going to be able to hit those high notes, so they don’t even try.

Or maybe its because in these troubled times the song is too militaristic--too much about conquest, too jingoistic.

For whatever the reason, our fervor for the song pales in comparison to other countries sharing this worldwide stage of the World Cup.

Maybe this is the time to renew the debate over which song ought to be our national anthem--the Star Spangled Banner, or America the Beautiful.

For one thing...it’s a song everyone can sing. For another, it’s a beautiful song with the kind of  optimistic imagery that we often associate with what we think makes our country so great--the fruited plains, the majestic rocky mountains, the amber waves of grain.

Listen to parts of the second verses of both songs--from the Star Spangled Banner: "then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto, in God is our trust."

And from America the Beautiful: "America, America, God mend thine every flaw; confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law."

One talks about conquest, the other about a country and its people--from sea to shining sea.

One talks about how our flag was still there--the other about endless possibilities.

And it can be sung.

Congress made the Star Spangled Banner our national song in 1931. It's been long enough.

It's time for a song that reflects who we are as a nation, and I don’t think we can find a better one than America the Beautiful. A wonderful tribute to the United States of America--and one we can sing.

In this corner... I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 29, 2014 17:14 GMT

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer spending fell in July, with a drop in auto purchases accounting for most of the weakness. Income growth also slowed in July.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending edged down 0.1 percent last month after a 0.4 percent increase in June. It was the first decline in spending since January. Income growth slowed to a 0.2 percent rise in July, the weakest showing in seven months.

The fall in spending came primarily from a decline in auto sales, which took a breather in July after posting big gains in recent months, although spending in other areas was also weak.

Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, so it needs to recover for the economy to keep its momentum in the second half of the year.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer sentiment ticked up in August, driven by greater optimism about jobs, rising incomes, and increasing wealth. The increase largely occurred among higher-income groups.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment rose to 82.5 from 81.8 in July. Still, it has barely risen in the past year.

Consumers have sent mixed signals in recent months. The Michigan index has fluctuated between 80 and 82.5 since December. A measure of consumer confidence by the Conference Board rose this month to nearly a seven-year high. And yet Americans cut back their spending in July.

Nearly 60 percent of households in the top third of income earners say they are financially better off this month, the Michigan survey found, compared with only 36 percent in the bottom two-thirds.

US-FIAT-CHRYSLER

DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. investors should soon be able to buy stock in Chrysler for the first time in seven years.

Italy's Fiat and Chrysler are merging to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Fiat says Friday that an ongoing tally of investors suggests there is not enough opposition to derail the deal.

Earlier this month, Fiat shareholders approved combining the companies. But Italian law gives dissenters the right to cash out. Fiat has said that if investors offered more than 500 million euros ($650 million) in shares, the merger would be off.

Fiat SpA will announce the final tally by Sept. 4. So far the maximum number of shares to be cashed is below the cap.

Shares of Chrysler haven't been publicly traded since 2007 when it was still combined with German automaker Daimler.

REYNOLDS AMERICAN-LORILLARD

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Federal regulators are putting Reynolds American Inc.'s planned $25 billion takeover of rival cigarette maker Lorillard Inc. under the microscope.

The nation's second-biggest tobacco company said Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has asked for additional information as part of an antitrust review of the deal.

In July, Reynolds announced the deal to combine two of the nation's oldest and biggest tobacco companies, creating a formidable No. 2 to rival Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA.

Reynolds markets Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit cigarettes. Lorillard sells Newport, Maverick and Kent cigarettes.

The companies plan to sell the Kool, Salem, Winston, Maverick and blu eCig brands to Imperial Tobacco Group for $7.1 billion to ease regulatory concerns about competition.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-TAX FORMS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal agency that brought you the glitchy HealthCare.gov website has a massive new project.

If the Health and Human Services department has trouble this time, that could delay tax refunds for many people.

Complicated connections between the new health care law and income taxes will start to surface in 2015.

HHS has to send millions of people who got health insurance tax credits this year a new tax form that's like a W-2 for health care. It's called a 1095-A.

If they're delayed beyond Jan. 31, people who got coverage through the new insurance exchanges may have to wait to file their taxes -- and collect their refunds.

Some tax preparation companies are worried.

The Obama administration says it's on task, but won't provide much detail.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Inflation has fallen to an annual 0.3 percent in August for the 18 countries that use the euro, underlining the shakiness of the continent's economic recovery.

Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, says the figure is down from 0.4 percent in July, as expected by market analysts.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy, sent a modestly brighter signal as it rose to 0.9 percent from 0.8 percent.

The eurozone economy showed no growth in the second quarter as fears about the Ukrainian crisis weighed on consumers and investment decisions.

The European Central Bank has warned that inflation expectations are worsening and says it will add more stimulus if needed. Many analysts are predicting the bank will launch large-scale purchases of financial assets to pump more money into the economy.

BRAZIL-ECONOMY

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's government says the country's gross domestic product contracted 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, sending the country's economy into a recession.

The government's IBGE statistics bureau said Friday it was the second consecutive quarterly contraction of the economy.

In the first quarter of the year, GDP was reported as having grown 0.2 percent. But that figure was revised downward to minus 0.2 percent.

The IBGE says the country's GDP stands at 1.27 trillion reals ($567 billion).

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