04 Jul 98

God bless it, Amen! I have taken this flag and pressed it to my chest and it has come out the other side.

Part I: Patriotic Notebook

God bless America!
I don't believe in God,
But I believe in AMERICA.
Culture butcher to the world, She's the
College-sender, price-fixer, father-mother, house-builder.
Great, hyphenated nation,
I am happy that you tax me!

Like you, my history is contrived. I am 23, a disconnected wire,
Spun off its pole in a thunderstorm of greed.
Spitting sparks into your paved street. And you provide me
With transportation and supermarkets.

My neighbors walk into that HELL CHURCH OF ABORTION while I go to
I'll end up at their barbecue later, carrying potato chips.

America, how are you doing with the terrible sores left from slavery, racism, inequality, and exploitation? What's up with your vision of hamburgers that, lined end-to-end, could circle the planet fifty times? Stand up to the microphone and explain yourself, you bastard.

AMERICA! Whoa, I have seen the best minds of my generation
Openly discussing their bowels on the Internet
Worried about the rent, experimenting
With less annoying pretension,
And less attention paid to social status or advanced degrees,
Than our forebears.


Do I love you or have I lowered my standards?

Part II: Proposal

I propose that the Star Spangled Banner come off the books as the national anthem. No one likes it. It can't be sung. It tempts awful caterwauling from pop divas.

As research for this entry, I listened to the entire song. It's about a flag and a sunrise. Francis Scott Key wrote the new words on the back of a piece of sausage casing in 1789, in order to glorify war. War provides a good solution for securing the interests of the non-ethnic rich minority, but is rarely good for the average citizen. The second verse of the Banner, rarely sung, reads:

Oh blood-drenched soil
We will soak thee some more
And laugh at the British
As we strangle their daughters

Compare this to "America, the Beautiful":

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
America, America, God shine his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Much better. Sounds nicer, feels more friendly, and it even begins with "Oh," so the Pop Divas would find themselves on familiar territory. This is a arms-on-shoulder kind of tune, a shimmering song about paradise for the good and just. This is something you whistle. Middle-school bands honk out "America" along with the Shaker Hymn and "Selections from 'Oliver!'."

It's time we left behind the cracked-voice adolescence of the Star Spangled Banner. I offer these four simple steps for replacing the anthem at a national level:

  1. Hire India to bomb Washington.
  2. Create a puppet goverment.
  3. Overthrow.
  4. Re-create America, with "America, the Beautiful" as the national anthem.

I think it'll be worth it.




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


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