December 2005


I’ll be home…

So tonight I went to the holiday concert for Bachelor, Jackson Creek, and Tri-North Middle Schools, plus the Bloomington High School South and Bloomington High School North Orchestras (wholly combined at some points).

It was one of the most disturbing things I have seen in a long time, and that includes watching “War of the Worlds” with Tom Cruise, a man fall backwards off a bar-stool at Uncle E’s, and the overly pierced gentleman I sat next to flying from PMI to LIS (no eyebrows, but a row of eyebrow piercings, just to name the first 25 out of a lot of piercings that I could see).

The most disturbing thing about the event was that at the beginning of the concert we were asked to rise, I kid you not, so that the colors could be presented. And then the soldiers marched in, one from the right (Flag for the United States of America), and one from the left (Indiana’s flag). They marched to the front, across the front (Indiana now on the right), up onto the stage, put the flag in the stands, saluted the flags and then the orchestra played the national anthem.

I couldn’t not laugh.

Certainly it is true that I’ve encountered this bizarre tradition at sporting events in the States at all levels (high school, collegiate, and professional), so it’s not like I am completely unfamiliar with the routine.

Everybody rises.

A piece of music honoring a war against our (now) greatest ally is butchered, either instrumentally or vocally—if not in combination.

Everybody cheers and whistles as if it was the greatest performance ever (usually quite the opposite).

Everybody sits back down with a renewed appreciation and love for the United States of America.

Except the tradition is completely superficial and the ones who endorse it the most, tend to be the ones who least appreciate the country they live in. They are the ones who throw their litter by the side of the road, try to convert everybody to Christianity because they think the USA is a Christian Nation, and want lower taxes because the government is too big as they drive to work on roads paid for with tax dollars, use power generated by a taxpayer funded dam, and collect social security.

So after this superficial introduction to the concert, it was revealed (to the illiterate) that this concert was being held in honor of our troops (past and present). In fact, attached to the program, were 10 (ten) pages listing “Our Guests of Honor.”

Oddly, the list appeared to have more names than there were people in the audience.

Any how, the concert would have warmed even the most worried of all worried “Christians” who are afraid that phrase “Happy Holidays” is overtaking Christmas. We were treated to “Christmas Memories,” “Joy to the World,” Christmas Fiddlers on the Housetop,” “Candy Cane Christmas,” “I’ll be home for Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Silent Night,” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” The last one was performed twice, with two different grandmothers run over.

There were three “peace” songs (how un-American), and one for the Jews, “Chanukah Music for Strings.”

The penultimate song was “God Bless America.”

I’m not actually complaining about the overall music selection: As long as the state does not endorse any particular religion as an official religion, Christmas music is fine, and there should be some representation of other seasonal holidays: Chanukah, Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa.

However, I am quite concerned about excessive patriotism and jingoism. Performing the National Anthem too frequently cheapens it and makes it a part of the background noise. We need to treat it with respect and honor—and limit its use to truly special occasions: State Funerals. State Dinners. Official Events.

I’ve lived in Germany for a year and a half now, and I don’t think that I’ve ever heard the German national anthem.

I presume that there is one.

Is it possible to go a year and a half in the USA without hearing the national anthem?

2 comments to I’ll be home…

  • ChrisC

    I don’t think it is possible to go a year and a half in the USA without hearing the national anthem.

    Although that whole salute everthing and everything seems very much like 1930’s Germany. *ugh*

  • Jerry Faust

    Two ironies:

    1) The melody of the “star spangled banner” was originally used as part of a bawdy drinking song; it’s hard to get much “cheaper” than that. 🙂

    2) December 25 was originally a “Pagan” holiday celebrating the birth of the sun god Mithra; Constantine converted the day to Christmas only in the 4th century CE. So why would Christians complain about the “secularization” of a holiday that wasn’t originally theirs ? 🙁