Oh Say Can You Sing?

“Please rise for our National Anthem,” the loudspeaker announced quieting the packed gymnasium. It’s not my favorite tune but I’m always up for a song. The music commenced and I began to sing along. “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” I paused for a moment to confirm my suspicion that I was the only one singing. Yep, just me. Oh, what the hell I thought, I’m already making a fool of myself, might as well go all in. My daughter and sons turned to look at me: my sanity always a question in their minds, I think. But come on,  can one really be expected to ignore a voiceless musical score blaring over the loudspeaker: it was a karaoke Siren’s call to me.
I will tell you, I like the idea of anthems: a song to release deep feelings. I guess I’m not so moved by the concept of nationalism, but certainly other emotions within me respond to music.
Naturally I wouldn’t announce this to a crowded high school gym full of basketball fans, but as far as national anthems go I actually prefer the Russian: Gosudarstivenniy Gimn SSSR. It is stirring, really builds up a patriotic fervor which rather seems the point, no?  The song was originally called Anthem of the Bolshevic Party,  it was decided it was an uncomfortable reminder of Stalin, he was specifically named  in a verse, so it was played lyric-less from the the 70’s until they changed it altogether in the 90’s to a bland wordless anthem conspicuously called Patriotic Song, then in 2000 they wisely reinstated the old tune with new words written by the same writer as the original: Sergey Mikhalkov, much to my pleasure.
Our anthem on the other hand, is tricky; the words muddle easily and it is all over the place making it difficult for the average jingoist to join in. Never the less, as I had already committed my voice out loud, I sang on; I’d just get through home of the brave and land of the free and then my hot face and I could sink onto the bleacher back into anonymity.
Here is my last helpful hint of 2011, If you are ever in this situation I can tell you that most people, when confronted with your awkward situation, will simply ignore you.
Live and let live, baby.

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