Our nation is struggling with a question of patriotism? What is the appropriate posture when our national anthem is played? Do we remove our hats, stand, salute or do we even stand at all? I stand with hand over heart but then I take it one step further. I sing!
I’m the guy in the stadium next to you that’s a little embarrassing because most men don’t sing in public. I sing anyway. I sing with reckless abandon. I sing though our anthem is one of the hardest songs to sing in much the same way that the American experiment is difficult to embody.
Our anthem of freedom wasn’t meant to be sung easily. Some argue for a simpler song but I say we should keep it difficult. Our struggle is not easy so why should it be comfortable to sing America’s song.
I sing though my aging voice struggles to reach the lilting heights of our freedom song’s finish. Excuse me sir. Don’t look at me with distain. This is why I sing…
I sing for those who wear the uniform as I once proudly did. I sing for the conscientious objector whose convictions of peace is a vital part of the soul of this nation.
I sing for those who stand with hands on heart. I sing for those who take a stand by refusing to stand.
I sing for Native peoples who now share their prosperous land with peoples from around the globe even if not by choice.
I sing for George Washington’s march across the Potomac when freedom’s flame was only a flicker.
I sing for slaves huddled in overcrowded ships like animals, ripped from their homelands in order to work under the whip of oppression.
I sing for Harriet Tubman’s underground railroad, for Frederick Douglas’ voice and pen that dealt slavery a stinging blow. I sing with former slave ship captain John Newton who repented of his dehumanizing sins and penned the words to “Amazing Grace.”
I sing for the glory of my home in the North and for my sweet adopted home in Dixie. I sing for the wonder of a nation that was restored after the deep divisions that divided us.
I sing for Dr. King’s dream, for John F. Kennedy’s American idealism, and for Ronald Reagan’s winsome words that made us more proud to be Americans than members of a particular political party.
I sing for the hopeless both far and near yearning to find freedom and “welcome” here.
I sing for Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Jews. And yes, I sing for athiests too.
I sing not to incite hatred, but to inspire love.
Wait a minute. Here it comes. The big finish. “O’er the land of the freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! And the home of the brave!
This is why I sing.