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Star-Spangled Petition: Saving the National Anthem

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WASHINGTON -- There's been a move afoot in recent years to replace "The Star-Spangled Banner" as America's national anthem with something less aggressive and involved with war.

Some people have advocated using Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land."  

Now a group called Sing it America is trying to make sure "The Star-Spangled Banner" stays the national anthem forever.

"The Rasmussen Report said that 15 percent of Americans want to replace the national anthem," Shelli Manuel, co-chair of Sing It America, pointed out.

Some want it changed because they think "The Star-Spangled Banner" is too hard to sing. But Manuel said others, both inside and outside the United States, are advocating for a change because they find the anthem too militaristic and aggressive.

"And it's really coming from a G-20 initiative originally where we've been asked to get rid of our national anthem because it's too militarily adversarial to our One World neighbors," she said.

Sing It America is seeking a 100,000 Americans to sign a petition at the We The People website, urging the president and Congress to retain the anthem forever. The deadline is May 31.

*Sign the petition to keep the national anthem

Manuel is also asking Americans to organize a massive, 50-state sing-along on the anthem's 200th anniversary, Sept. 14. The hope is that at 5 p.m. EST, Americans gathered at all 50 statehouses would simultaneously sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"It's not difficult to rent a statehouse," Manuel insisted. "All you have to do is go to our website and we'll help you download the forms and get in touch with the right people."

Birth of an Anthem

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was originally a poem written by lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key and was called "Defence of Fort McHenry." In the War of 1812, the British had just burned Washington, D.C., and then headed north to defeat American forces in Baltimore.

Fort McHenry stood in the way of British warships reaching the city. Key was being held captive on board one of those British warships.

On Sept. 13, the British began a 27-hour bombardment of the fort and a British officer taunted Key, telling him the American flag over Fort McHenry would soon be replaced by a British flag.

Key replied they wouldn't know for sure till they could see the fort in the light of the dawn.

The morning of Sept. 14, Key did indeed see that flag flying "by the dawn's early light" and was inspired to write lines like "Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

Manuel said she once worked on a project that involved asking people in Baltimore, Maryland, where the anthem was birthed, if they knew "The Star-Spangled Banner."

She reported not one of the children or teenagers knew any of the verses. The same was true for about 80 percent of the adults.

Part of the reason Manuel and others formed Sing It America is to educate Americans about their anthem.

She wishes more people would learn this stirring song, and especially the words to its fourth verse, which specifically praises God.

Manuel quoted it for CBN News:

"Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

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About The Author


As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress. Strand began his tenure at CBN News in 1985 as an evening assignment editor in Washington, D.C. After a year, he worked with CBN Radio News for three years, returning to the television newsroom to accept a position as editor in 1990. After five years in Virginia Beach, Strand moved back to the nation's capital, where he has been a correspondent since 1995. Before joining CBN News, Strand served as the newspaper editor for