Thursday, November 14, 2019
US flag

Kaepernick refuses to stand for National Anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem before the team’s game last weekend against the Green Bay Packers. He says he was protesting what he believes is wrongful treatment of African Americans and minorities in the US, NFL.com reports.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he was quoted as saying. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Every Friday night, all across America, high school marching bands play the “Star-Spangled Banner” in front of home football crowds. It’s a practice as old as high school football. However, the tradition of singing the national anthem before sporting events is noticeably absent in European and Asian countries, like Germany and Japan.

“I’ve probably conducted the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ 500 times, and taught it, in some form or for some purpose, every one of my 31 years in the classroom,” writes Nancy Flanagan, a 30-plus-year veteran in the K-12 music classrooms in Hartland, Michigan, a National Board Certified Teacher, and the 1993 Michigan Teacher of the Year. “I don’t particularly like it, but it’s one of those ‘part of the job’ music-teacher tasks that becomes habitual, boring, and then—on unexpected occasions—moving.”

For the “Teacher in a Strange Land” blog in Education Week, she adds:

Actually, this kind of thing happens fairly frequently: the student who refuses to pledge allegiance to the flag, or the child whose parents pull her out of the Valentine’s Day party. … Sometimes, teachers gossip in the lounge, expressing pity for kids whose parents have non-standard beliefs or practices. But in my experience, students whose families are out of the mainstream often have tighter family bonds and strong support for academic achievement. Smart school leaders honor students’ and families’ beliefs, as long as they’re not harmful. It’s better to stand for something. … Each time I see another discussion—even heated comments—about what it means to revere the flag, I think: Good. This will give American citizens and, one hopes, students, something to study and pick apart our deeply racist history, our national values. Our right of free expression.

Sometimes not saying something is just as much an expression of free speech as saying something is. Not only does this high-profile refusal to sing the national anthem provide a good base for discussion about issues facing the nation, but it also provides an opportunity to learn something about this famous song that is so ingrained in our national culture.

The lyrics come from the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” by Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old lawyer, and were written on September 14, 1814, after he saw Fort McHenry bombed by British ships in Baltimore Harbor. The tune, originally by John Stafford Smith, who wrote it for a men’s social club in London known as the “Anacreontic Society,” was entitled “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

The glory Key’s words put on war is considered outdated by some. He adamantly opposed the War of 1812, according to History.com, referring to the war as “abominable” and “a lump of wickedness.” He did, however, serve in the military after the British began attacking cities he loved along the Chesapeake Bay.

And Smith’s tune is generally thought to be hard to sing. Whatever you do, don’t start too high, keep it simple, and in the name of Michael Bolton, memorize the words. All the words.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.

A band teacher is IL Teacher of the Year

IL named a band teacher the 2020 Teacher of the Year on Oct. 19. He individualizes music instruction and shares his work with 1000s.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ bookends Halloween

Several high schools have decided to add a little spook to their musical stages in this season of Halloween. Music makes it happen.

New IL law ensures inclusion of LGBTQ+

A law will take effect next school year in IL that will require students to study LGBTQ history as part of the social studies curriculum.

MoCo doubles down on summer learning loss

Research is at least equivocal about summer learning loss, but maybe there's something to a new plan in Montgomery County, Md.

Downers North lights up the gym for Beth

Ongoing fundraising drives for a Downers Grove N. volleyball player killed by an intoxicated driver in Feb. are going strong in this western suburb.

High-payroll Yankees don’t make World Series

The World Series begins Tuesday, but some of the playoff games can teach us valuable things about youth sports, investment, etc.

Chicago teacher strike enters calendar week 2

Chicago teachers strike for the 3rd day Monday; the union wants smaller class sizes and support for paraprofessionals.

1 COMMENT

Comments are closed.