I belong to that apparently disappearing radical fringe group of patriots that believes that when the band plays the opening chord of the national anthem everyone sings. I say disappearing because someone has decided that our national song should be performed for us while we stand at parade rest and evaluate the singer.
Last week I attended our high school’s commencement program. Every part of the event was superb including the valedictorian’s address, which was delivered by our next-door neighbor — everything, that is, except that the high school principal announced that some senior members of the choir would sing the national anthem.
Silly me, I began to sing along, expecting that it would be contagious and soon the crowd would join me. Instead I got at least 50 stares.
No one needs to tell me that the “Star-Spangled Banner” is difficult to sing, but don’t pretend that having a soloist or a group perform it for us is the answer. That switch has resulted in heinous desecrations of the anthem.
So let us imagine that on occasions when we are asked by the emcee to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the emcee adds: “... and here to perform the pledge for us is the valedictorian of the senior class.” Are you up for that?
It galls me that when I attend a Pirates game someone performs the national anthem for me, but when the top of the seventh inning ends everyone stands to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” with the words and cookies bouncing on the scoreboard.
The 238th celebration of Independence Day is close at hand. Please, oh please, if you are in charge of a patriotic event say: “Here to lead us in the singing of the national anthem is ....” Lacking that encouragement, sing it out anyway. There will always be someone like me hoping for support.
PAUL D. WIERMAN