This Is The Anthem, Get Your Damn Hands Up

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Francis Scott Key

These lines resonate with every American.

We start our sporting events with them.

We play the music to the song during the olympics when we get our medals.

The Star Spangled Banner. The song that made Francis Scott Key famous and cemented his name in history books until some other nation over takes this one. It is a song that everyone knows the tune too. Funny thing, there is more than what we know. The song was written about the American victory at the battle of Fort McHenry in 1814. As famous as the first set of lines has become, Key also penned 3more verses.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Yeah, you saw it. “No refuge could save the hireling and slave”.

Today, that line would be shocking.

Hell, Kanye West took flack for his song New Slaves.

In 1814, that word and the ideas it carried with it were not shocking or provocative. They were the standard. Key actually owned slaves. Key was an anti-abolitionist, you know, the people who were dead set against ending slavery. We all know how the part of the National Anthem we all want to get hyped for goes, “The land of the free and the home of the brave”. Hell yeah. Play ball! That is an incredible line. Sadly, not all of Key’s quotes were as harrowing or enjoyable as that one. Key once referred to Africans in America as, and I quote, “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”

Damn.

I mean seriously, dammit.

Some people take the third verse of the Star Spangled Banner to show Key taking pleasure in the deaths of former slaves who had decided to join up and fight the British.

Forgive me but I have to say it again. Dammit.

Colin Kaepernick

It is time for a new National Anthem. When I think of America, that is not what I picture. It is not what I want to picture. That is me being honest, I know racism still runs rampant. I know that hatred out weighs love on a scale that makes me really want Jesus to come back soon but I really think we are going to be waiting a long time.

Even though I don’t agree with the actions of Colin Kaepernick and sitting through the verse of the Star Spangled Banner we have adopted as our National Anthem, I can no longer pretend like the rest of the song doesn’t exist. I can also no longer pretend like Francis Scott Key was huge bigot and should not be the person who wrote the song that defines our nation to many.

God Bless America. America the Beautiful. Those songs get lots of love these days as a worthy suitor, either would be fine with me. Hell, if I had my way, this would be the song we play before every sporting event:

The National Anthem has been a polarizing backdrop before. Remember this?

Now is time for the song to not just be a backdrop, but rather part of the solution. Racism is not okay. Racism cannot be tolerated or allowed to fester in the secret places we hope no one looks. Racism is somehow our most forecast sin and our biggest secret sin all at the same time. I will no longer be standing for the National Anthem as a song. Instead, I will stand for what I believe it to stand for while remembering that terrible things can hide in any dark place we let them hang out. The song has to go, the thoughts that power that sort of thinking have to go. That doesn’t happen with one man sitting, it also doesn’t happen with one man writing. Yes, I know there are more than one doing each, the point is, we all need to stand up, speak up, and not give up until things change.

It is time to dust the parts of this nation we have either forgotten or neglected over time. Who knows what is hidden the other forgotten third verses of history.