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.


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 October 13, 2015 17:10 GMT


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Washington Times