Our dif­fi­cult na­tional an­them

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion -

One thing we know for cer­tain about the play­ing of the na­tional an­them at sports events is that few peo­ple sing along, even if their lips ap­pear to be moving. “The Star Span­gled Ban­ner” has a chal­leng­ing melody that spans nearly an oc­tave and a half — be­yond sing­ing range for most un­trained voices.

The lyrics are writ­ten in an ar­chaic style and are dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. Sur­veys have shown that only about 40 per­cent of U.S. cit­i­zens claim to know the words but most of those peo­ple can’t ac­tu­ally get past “whose broad stripes and bright stars.”

Since the lyrics are so poorly known, it’s likely that, ap­pear­ances aside, the peo­ple stand­ing around you at Lam­beau Field, Miller Park or else­where have not been pay­ing rapt at­ten­tion to our na­tional an­them.

— L.W.

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