What's in a Name? Celebrating the United States' Birthday

Since the United States is celebrating its birthday, I found myself contemplating the wording of the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

Our national anthem is sung – or led by a singer – in auditoriums, arenas and gatherings everywhere. But, I doubt many people have considered what the words mean.

Rather than examine the song word by word, I’d like to dwell on some of the imagery.

“And the rocket’s red glare, The bombs bursting in air,” in particular, is one image that links our country forever to war, fighting and violence.

Although it continues, “Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

As a nation we’ve survived assaults from outside and within our borders. Our flag IS still there.

Is our country one that extols us as the “land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Perhaps we would be better to move to another song of “purple mountains majesties, above the fruited plains … that crown our good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”   (America the Beautiful)

The brotherhood would certainly be something to remind us of how our country was envisioned. Freedom is a wonderful concept, but we need to couple it with brother and sisterhood.

What’s in a name? Quite a lot it seems. What represents us as a nation should be the best, but most hopeful and brightest imagery.

Challenges of the national anthem include, first, it is hard to sing, and second, do we want our children singing about bombs bursting in air? As a nation, survival is wonderful, but it would be great to see more of the community getting along that the soaring prose of America the Beautiful extols.

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