You don’t have to be Martin Luther King Jr. to have a dream. I’ve got one, too.
After winning the Battle of Britain against Hitler’s Luftwaffe, Winston Churchill praised his intrepid fliers of the Royal Air Force by saying, “Never before have so many owed so much to so few.” If Churchill had witnessed the rise of Donald Trump, he might have said something like, “Never before has one person insulted so many so painfully and been forgiven by so many!” Indeed, unless forgiven by millions of those offended by Trump’s insults against Charles Krauthammer and John McCain and additional multitudes during the campaign, Trump could never have been elected.
Now I’d like to see Trump take on an adversary that deserves the strongest jabs, japes and bashings Trump could ever assemble.
I want Trump to get rid of “The Star-Spangled Banner”!
An undeserved aura of holiness and tradition arises to envelop and surround our national anthem with respect. Untold numbers of careless elementary school students quite likely assume Gen. George Washington was humming “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his little boat crossing the Delaware to engage and defeat the Hessians. In fact, that song was not our anthem when I was born. And I don’t yet use a walker!
(The “Star-Spangled Banner was our de facto anthem long before I was born, but it wasn’t made official by Congress until 1931!)
The words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” were written aboard a British warship in Baltimore harbor during the only war we ever lost. The tune was from an old drinking song – a British drinking song – entitled “Anachreon in Heaven.” Anachreon was a Greek philosopher who died by choking on a grape seed at the age of 80.
It just keeps getting worse.
Our present anthem does no pride to a great nation. More people in foreign countries ridicule our anthem than hate our tariffs on steel and aluminum. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is difficult to sing and carries too little of the majesty of, for instance, the classic French “La Marseillaise” or even the Hungarian “Isten, Áldd Meg a Magyart” (“God Bless the Hungarians”). It doesn’t make women cry with pride like Norway’s “Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet” (“Yes, We Love This Country”), or inspire citizens to snap to a standing position like Sweden’s “Du Gamla, Du Fria” (“Thou Ancient, Thou Free”). We deserve something better, particularly in the age of Donald Trump.
Many strong alternatives to “The Star-Spangled Banner” have been suggested over the years, including the popular “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.” I’ve held a dark-horse entry close to my heart ever since I first heard it shortly before World War II. Listen to the song below and concentrate on the strong coalition offered by the stirring melody and appropriate lyric. The title of my nomination is “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” Forget “Columbia.” When this song was written Columbia was a nice name for America (that was long before the name “Columbia” brought forth images of a hopelessly left-wing university and – spelled a bit differently – an embattled cocaine source in South America). Let’s call it “America, the Gem of the Ocean” and the words go like this:
O, America the gem of the ocean.
The pride of the brave and the free.
A shrine to each patriot’s devotion.
A world offers homage to thee.
And then came the words that propelled me into a full-time, active militancy against not just Adolf Hitler but all tyrants everywhere. Noting by the rockets’ red glare our flag was still there is nice, but not nearly as nice as causing tyrants to tremble, as the mullahs of Iran are trembling at this moment. Listen!
Thy mandates make heroes assemble
When liberty’s form stands in view.
Thy banners make tyranny tremble
When borne by the red, white and blue.
One might think all this fuss and bother about an anthem is misdirected and mis-spent.
Wrong! A country that’s great has every reason to sound great. Bring on the national argument!
Listen to “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean”: