I made it out to the Pig Pen on Saturday to watch the National Anthem auditions. I felt bad for the judges who sat through well over 100 renditions of The Star Spangled Banner. There were a few that forgot the words, a few that belted it out perfectly and even more who sang their heart out hoping to open an Ironpig’s home game this season. The National Anthem at ballgames is one of my personal pet peeves. Sing the song. Noone would add a personal touch to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It’s a song, it has music and words. If you’re making an album or singing in the shower.. go for it. Sing like noone is listening. For the start of a ballgame, stick to the script. That’s how I feel.
There was one auditioner that stuck out to me. I wish I had gotten his name. He sang what I feel was the best of the day. Sporting a long greying beard, he stood a firm parade rest stance and belted out the National Anthem with a passion that would make anyone proud. My vote, if I had one, would go to him. Thank you sir for a great performance and I hope to see you open one of the 72 games I will be attending this summer.
More about the United States National Anthem…
I reference an image I found on Wikipedia (yes, Wikipedia)
The article begins:
“The annexed song was composed under the following circumstances — A gentleman had left Baltimore, in a flag of truce for the purpose of getting released from the British fleet, a friend of his who had been captured at Marlborough. He went as far as to the mouth of Patuxent, and was not permitted to return lest the intended attack on Baltimore should be disclosed. He was therefore brought up to the Bay to the mouth of Patapsco, where the flag vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate, and he was compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which the Admiral had boasted he would carry in a few hours, and that the city must fall. He watched the flag at the Fort through the whole day with an anxiety that can be better felt than described, until the night prevented him from seeing it. In the night he watched the Bomb Shells, and at early dawn his eye was again greeted by the proudly waving flag of his country.”
Ok, it’s written a long time ago and some language may be antiquated for most. Let’s think about this though. The guy’s friend was captured and being held a prisoner. He jumped in a rowboat and headed out to visit the British warships. A rowboat vs. a fleet of battleships. He then is told he cannot leave because he may have heard of the plan to attack Baltimore so he sits and helplessly watches his hometown, family and friends being bombarded by what was the most powerful Navy in the world at that time. He focuses on the flag, knowing that the signal for surrender would be lowering the flag. When the sun comes up in the morning he sees the flag and realizes that his city, his comrades and his country had not given up. They had survived.
Let’s take a brief look at United States Code 36 U.S.C. § 301
(a) Designation.— The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
(b) Conduct During Playing.— During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
Take note, this is in the United States code. It is not a tradition. It is a law. Granted, our leaders normally do not prosecute for something like this.. but it is a law. Note that women are not required to remove headdress.
That’s my two cents for the day.