Our Anthem


It’s an annual debate at my house – “America the Beautiful” or “The Star-Spangled Banner”?

My husband loves “America the Beautiful”.  It really is such a beautiful song.  I admit to tearing up the last few times I’ve sung it.  It has a beautiful, uplifting melody that flows and builds to its awe-inspiring chorus.  Every year, however, he argues that it should be our national anthem.

Whoa, whoa, now hold on.  We already have “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the official national anthem of the United States of America.  What’s wrong with that?  Why would you want to change it?

Well, he loves how the lyrics of the song include descriptions of the American landscape.  From the “amber waves of grain” and purple majestic mountains to the “shining seas”, the beauty and diversity fill him with pride for our beautiful country.   There are messages of hope for the future and honor to the sacrifices made for our freedom.

But what he loves most is the pioneering spirit that seems to radiate from each stanza.  He envisions his own ancestors, pioneers with wind-beaten brows, who were willing to stand up and change things that weren’t working.  It took a vision of what life could be, as well as a willingness to make great sacrifices in order to make that vision come to life.

And at the end of it all, a passionate reminder that brotherhood – unity – is the ultimate goal for our great nation.

*sigh.  I admit, I’m pretty much convinced that “America the Beautiful” would make an amazing anthem for our nation.

But… I’m a debater at heart.  I can’t just leave it there.

“The Star-Spangled Banner”, while difficult to sing — my husband argues, has its awe-inspiring points to consider as well.

Equally visual, “The Star-Spangled Banner” focuses on the tremendous struggle and ultimate victory that made us free to govern ourselves.  Written during the War of 1812, all of the elements appropriately captures the spirit of strength and defiance that held us through even the most impossible battles for our freedom.

At each stanza we envision the odds, our enemy strong and the fight “perilous”, and yet… through each dawn, through each clearing of the haze, we see our flag waving fearlessly.

That great symbol, that “star-spangled banner” as it waves triumphant, continues to remind us that we live in a land that is free.  It reminds us that we have a legacy of bravery that can inspire us and help us protect those freedoms, whatever the cost.

My husband conceded that I helped him see why we might want “The Star-Spangled Banner” as an anthem too.

But you know what?  Rather than worry about which is the best anthem, I just feel inspired.  These two and the many other songs written about America include the most important elements that make me stop and think how grateful I am.

Pioneers, fighters, men and women who would not back down regardless of how daunting the tasks that stretched out before them.  They made tremendous sacrifices.  They found beauty and potential in the wild landscape.  And through every battle, every obstacle, they held strong and united — and won.

We can do that.  We have the same heritage, the same legacy to carry us through whatever difficulty we face – now and in the future.  If we remember those principles that guided our early settlers and pioneers….

We can win.


One comment

  1. I appreciate the discussion, Emmy! Is it possible that other stanzas of our national anthem feel more applicable to the modern times of our great nation? For example, the second verse may be how our refugees feel when they seek shelter from the enemy. Then, the fourth and last verse may be how all of us feel when it comes to keeping our nation free from evil design. It makes sense that the very first verse is about the initial feeling of victory when the Revolution was won, and perhaps Nils feels that the connection to the Revolution is becoming a whisper. However, while I appreciate the tones of America the Beautiful, I feel the Star Spangled Banner is the voice to the world, from us.


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