Anthem Antics

An odd thing is occurring at sports events on The University of Akron’s campus. If you have attended one, you have likely experienced it. It happens during the Star-Spangled Banner, at the end, to be precise. Instead of singing …and the home of the brave, the students in attendance shout …and the home of the Zips. I find the practice both disturbing and disrespectful. Let me briefly explain why.

It might be easy to forget in this media and cultural climate that our nation is still at war. Tens of thousands of Americans are at this very moment risking their lives around the world in defense of our country. Thousands have died in just the past few years; more than a million patriots throughout history have given their lives so that we may be free.

The Star-Spangled Banner, as one ought to know, is our National Anthem. It is the essence of the United States expressed in song. Its title is a reflection of our most important national symbol, our flag that we display in times of celebration and joy but also in times of sorrow, when we drape them over the coffins of our fallen brothers and sisters. Furthermore, the brave in the final line of the anthem is the only explicit reference to the members of our armed forces. Replacing it with the name of a sports team erases our veterans from our national song.

For the entirety of any performance of the National Anthem, it is very inappropriate to do anything other than respect the flag and sing the anthem. Section 301(b)(1) of Title 36 in the United States Code says that during the Star-Spangled Banner, individuals should salute beginning at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note. This means that one’s obligation to behave in a dignified, reverent manner does not end ten seconds before the anthem is over.

While I do not think the students’ actions at the end of the National Anthem are intentionally meant to disrespect America, I nonetheless believe it signifies an absence of honor and humility that ought to be present in any citizen of this country.

Public performances of the National Anthem are one of the few chances for us to express our solemn pride in being citizens of the United States of America. It takes about two minutes to perform the National Anthem. The sporting event will last for several hours. Take a brief moment to reflect and thank others for what they have given you. It’s the least you can do.