Our Star-Mangled Banner

It’s pretty sad when you’re watching a sporting event and your first reaction is, “Oh, God, make it stop,” and the game hasn’t even started yet! Anybody watch the Rose Bowl? I don’t know who the singers were, don’t want to know, but I just kept thinking, if someone could actually sing the National Anthem in a non-tortured, non-butchered way that didn’t suck, that would be good.

You may be the greatest singer in the world, but I don’t want to hear your vocal acrobatics if you’re singing the National Anthem.

Just sing the song. Sing it straight.

My son, Josh, like most school kids in Maryland, took a field trip with his second grade class to Fort McHenry, the military base where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I know it’s not easy to sing. Apparently, the melody was an old drinking song once. Not a real toe-tapper, not catchy, but it’s what we have. It deserves some respect.

”Amazing Grace,” similarly, has been repeatedly violated. This song, too, simple and beautiful, deserves more respect than it gets. But go to a funeral, and in the midst of your grief, you’re dealing with some singer’s big moment to interpret this perfect gem of a hymn. Once again, the focus is on the singer, on the interpretation, rather than on the message.

Don’t interpret it. Just sing the song.

I got sidetracked.

Anyway, Josh’s entire class learned all of the verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And they sang them right there at Fort McHenry, while we proud parents listened respectfully and took pictures. You know what? It was great. Because the focus was the song. They sang it straight.

It wasn’t about these kids, but about the place, and the actual rockets’ red glare that Francis Scott Key saw in 1814. On one very long night, while Key was being held captive on a British boat, on a diplomatic mission approved by President James Madison, he saw the huge American flag (sewn by Mary Pickersgill — the Flag House where she and some other ladies hand-sewed it in downtown Baltimore was on our school tour) flying triumphantly over the garrison at Fort McHenry, even though British warships were doing their best to bombard the crap out of the place. He was so inspired, he wrote the song. For better or worse, it’s ours.

It deserves to be sung straight. Please.

Isn’t there some singer out there who can just sing the damn song?

 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

I’m starting a blog!

Seems there was a treasure ship on its way back to port.  About
halfway there, it was approached by a pirate, skull and crossbones waving
in the breeze!

“Captain, captain, what do we do?” asked the first mate.

“First mate,” said the captain, “go to my cabin, open my sea
chest, and bring me my red shirt.”  The first mate did so.

Wearing his bright red shirt, the captain exhorted his crew to
fight.  So inspiring was he, in fact, that the pirate ship was repelled
without casualties.

A few days later, the ship was again approached, this time by two
pirate sloops!

“Captain, captain, what should we do?”

“First mate, bring me my red shirt!”

The crew, emboldened by their fearless captain, fought heroically, and
managed to defeat both boarding parties, though they took many
casualties.  That night, the survivors had a great celebration.  The
first mate asked the captain the secret of his bright red shirt.

“It’s simple, first mate.  If I am wounded, the blood does not
show, and the crew continues to fight without fear.”

A week passed, and they were nearing their home port, when
suddenly the lookout cried that ten ships of the enemy’s armada were
approaching!

“Captain, captain, we’re in terrible trouble, what do we do?”
The first mate looked expectantly at the miracle worker.

Pale with fear, the captain commanded, “First mate…. bring me my
brown pants!”

This is my second-favorite joke.  My first-favorite doesn’t really apply to this inaugural blog, so I’ll save it for another time.  I’m starting a blog!  Bring me the brown pants!

A bit about me:  I’m a wife and mom.  My husband, Mark, and I have three kids, Blair, Andy, and Josh, ages 19, 16, and 9.  We have dogs and horses.  We used to have sheep, chickens, and a llama, but now we’re down to a career low of just the four animals.

Mark is a doctor, a gastroenterologist, and I am a health writer, former magazine editor, and former essayist on national public radio. For the last 19 years, I have worked from home, writing health books and writing publications for Johns Hopkins, so I could be with our kids.  I homeschooled Blair and Andy for five years, and may be homeschooling Josh when he hits middle school in two years.

I hope to have chickens again, and maybe another llama, although there was only one Nelson, who was a Katrina victim and a rescued llama.  We love to knit, love books, and adore our Labrador Retrievers.  We live in a small town in the mountains in Arizona.  That’s about it for now.

 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.