Of all the wacky notions to emerge from these troubling times of protest, riot and pandemic, the one I find especially troubling is the idea that we should change our national anthem. Even more troubling is that some are considering the song "Imagine," written by a British rock musician John Lennon, who had nothing to do with America, except the collection of vast sums of money for singing with the Beatles, most of which went back to the UK.

Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer, author and poet who was born, raised and buried in Frederick, Maryland, wrote the lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Banner" after being inspired by an American flag, which remained standing at Fort McHenry in 1814 following the British bombardment that laid waste to the fort. It became our national anthem in 1931.

John Lennon, English rock musician, songwriter, peace activist, and guitarist for the Beatles from Liverpool, England, wrote the pop rock song "Imagine" in 1971. He didn't serve in the U.S. or provide inroads for freedom and opportunity or even provide any inspiration for American patriotism. He provided entertainment by playing his guitar and singing.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" should remain our national anthem in my opinion. John Lennon's song makes reference to no religion, no possessions, no greed and hunger and a brotherhood of man," the very underpinnings of a utopian society derived from an economic and political system of socialism. Imagine that!

Leroy Donald

Stephens City

(4) comments

Jason Murray

Arguments about racism concerning the national anthem appear to stem from a reference to slaves in the 3rd verse in which their deaths are referenced with glee. There is substantial evidence that this is a reference to a regiment of former American Slaves called the Colonial Marines who were fighting for the British as Free Men. Moreover, there is evidence that supporters of the Star Spangled Banner perceived it as a way to claim wide-spread freedom in spite of reality, when it was advanced by a Jim Crow-era Democrat, and signed into law by Herbert Hoover in 1931. Indeed, a parade to promote the Star Spangled Banner even included a color guard bearing not only the American Flag, but also the Confederate Battle Standard - which caused many of the US Civil War Veterans in attendance to boycott the parade for trying to hijack patriotism in way that was inclusive of confederate veneration.

That said, is a single reference in a largely unknown verse enough to disregard the National Anthem? If this were 1931 I would suggest that it would be, but its not 1931. I say this because since 1931 it has come to reflect not only the War of 1812 about which it was written, but rather a reflection of American doggedness in the face of overwhelming odds .... something which has been shared by not only by Soldiers of every ethnic background in the many wars and conflicts since 1812, but is also expressed by those who have protested for equality and freedom - even until this very day - in spite of state sponsored violence, white-power terrorism, hatred, and systematic oppression. As such, I believe the anthem can be salvaged by omitting all but the first verse - which is the only part we all know anyway - and can then be viewed primarily as reflective of the fortitude shown by all Americans while struggling patriotically in their own way, to make this a better country.

However, I have to admit that I am looking at this through the lens of a White US Military Combat Veteran so its likely I might be missing some context. I know only what the anthem has meant to me, so in all fairness, I would support swapping it out if it is truly considered as primarily a mocking racist reference by a majority of folks of color. My reticence to do so is because I am not so sure that it is really perceived that way. Please tell me if I am wrong.

Lastly, I want to address the elephant in the room - namely - kneeling when the Anthem is played. This also gets at how I suspect that folks who protest really perceive the national anthem (and again - I could be wrong). I suspect that those who kneel are mostly unaware of the 3rd verse or allegations that the song is inherently racist. I don't believe this is why they are kneeling at all. At least among folks that I know, they are kneeling because the Star Spangled Banner is a symbol of American Freedom and Justice, but neither Freedom nor Justice have yet to be provided equally to Black and Brown American Citizens. As such, kneeling is a symbol unto itself, to remind us all that we have work to do, so that the symbols like the National Anthem (or at least what I imbue the first verse with) can one day be reflective of the experience of all Americans.


Never heard that this was a thing until now. I don't believe it for a minute though.

Admiral Emluk of Borbistan

The anthem is kind of like the birthday song. It isn't the best song. It's kind of outdated. But, it's tradition. I doubt it will change anytime soon.

Spock Here

Gee Leroy, you didn't have to bash a truly beautiful song and great artist to tell us Imagine shouldn't be our National Anthem. I hadn't heard that "idea". Don't worry yourself. As for the Anthem, it's beautiful when sung properly. And it very often is mangled. Regular people have trouble with the high notes. When this idea has been discussed in past years (No, it's not a new idea) I believe suggested substitutes were America the Beautiful and My Country Tis of Thee. But, stay calm..I think you're safe from Mr. Lennon.

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