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National Anthem Too Violent for Goshen College

This bit of news was surprising to me on a Friday afternoon.  I must have missed the news when it broke over the summer:
Tiny Goshen College in Indiana has banned the "The Star Spangled Banner: at all sporting events because the Mennonite school's president considers the National Anthem's words to be too violent.
 
The 1,000-student school had already banned the words last year, but the band could still play the music for patriots in attendance. Now, the school has banned the song entirely, according to NBC Sports. The school’s board of directors told college President Jim Brenneman to “find an alternative to playing the National Anthem that fits with sports tradition, that honors country and that resonates with Goshen College’s core values and respects the views of diverse constituencies.”
They are quite serious about "peace" at Goshen. The following phrase prominently appears on the school website: 
we're passionate about making peace. If you believe in care of the earth and care of one another, if you put your faith and God before anything else, this is the college for you. We're for people who want to serve the world with joy in the name of peace.
What do you think?
 
on August 27, 2011 5:47am
Much as I respect the anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner," I find the words and music of "America the Beautiful" so much better.  Samuel A. Ward's tune and harmony are moving, dignified, uplifting and singable.  Katherine Lee Bate's text embodies our country's splendor and nobility and humility -- all that I like to think comprised the American spirit in the land where I grew up and that I pray defines us now and in years to come.  So my hat's off to Goshen College!  chris hoh
on August 27, 2011 6:24am
Good for them!  What will they play/sing instead? 
I have always thought that America the Beautiful should be our National Anthem. 
But then, Mennonites have been consciencious objectors in all our wars, I believe. 
Could they create a trend for a 'peaceful' anthem?
 
Eloise Porter
Voice101@gmail.com
on August 27, 2011 2:16pm
Russell is so right. Without those of us who have been willing to fight for this country's freedoms, the various conscientious objectors would have no choice as to what to sing anywhere.
 
Religious freedom in one thing. Life to live it is another.  So far as the national anthem is concerned, it has been murdered by so many that I dread to hear the next mutilation at a ballgame or race or anywhere. America the Beautiful is a good choice. I love the slow respectful, quasi religious manner that Ray Charles sang it; it has character. It should be sung in a straight forward manner with no effort to show off. No crooning, no "ecstasiising" - just honest respect, in a manner that all in attendance can join in singing. Lead-don't show off if you are asked to sing.
 
 
 
on August 27, 2011 4:04pm
Philip,
For what it's worth, it didn't just miss your radar. To my knowledge, this never appeared on the news in Ft. Wayne, and we're a skosh over an hour away and the largest city nearby. In conservative and very patriotic Ft. Wayne, I'm very surprised this didn't make our local news.
Brian
on August 27, 2011 10:21pm
After reading everyone's comments, I really feel that I have to say . . . it is what it is . . . just because WE don't want to be aggressive or violent does not mean that those attributes were not necessary to gift us with this wonderful country in which we live.  Like it or not, this is a worldwide phenomenon.  Our great counrty was born on the sacrfifice of those who valued our freedom enough to sacrifice their own for us.  My father fought in a war.  My grandfather fought in a war.  It is the price we pay for the right to have the opinion that violence is not the solution.  I support their right to have their opinion, but I am greatful and thankful for the many sacrifices that have been made for us all.  I will not disrespect their efforts or sacrifices in order to proclaim my desire not to fight.  I don't have to fight, but I cannot disregard the actions of our forefathers.  My students all learn the entire story and I teach them to respect our country and what it has taken to keep us great.  After that, the choice is theirs.  But in MY classroom or chorus, we will be respectful. 
on August 28, 2011 1:03pm
Speaking of the back-story...
 
Most folks have probably forgotten that the poem was written during the bombardment of Ft. McHenry, and that the "rockets" and "bombs" belonged to the British, not the Americans.  It certainly reflects a military context, but at least until we get to "Conquer we must!" it's more about survival of a new nation than about bloodying our foes.  It's easy to see why the children and grandchildren of the Revolution held it dear.
 
But why, oh why, are we the only(?) nation who finish our national anthem with a question mark???  The first verse, the only one we ever hear, says basically: "At sunset, the fort was still flying the flag - i.e., had not surrendered.  Through the night we caught glimpses of it during the shelling.  It's morning now.  Is the flag still flying?"  That question is answered in the second verse, which no one ever seems to sing.
 
Having said all that, I'll cast another vote for "America, the Beautiful".  It sings better and the lyrics speak thoughtfully to our national experience.
on August 28, 2011 7:43pm
I really appreciate all these comments and the thought/passion behind each one.  When I sing the SSB next time, I'll think about our discussion!
 
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
 
As to the question mark, I love it.  Are we really the land of the free and the home of the brave?
 
 
on August 29, 2011 7:06am
OK, I'm reading threads entirely too early in the morning.  Did anyone else look at Philip's comment and think "Soprano-Soprano-Bass - what unusual voicing for the national anthem!"?
on August 29, 2011 1:55pm
Brilliant, love it! As the great Buddhist Monk who was a refuge from the Vietnam War, Thich Nhat Han, says, "There is no way to peace. Peace is the only way." America the Beautiful is a much better national anthem. Go Mennonites (and Quakers, and Unitarians...)!