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Time to update National Anthem

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, February 24, 2008

When I hear the word “America,” a few things come to mind. One is apple pie. Others include freedom, hot dogs, John Wayne, baseball, Journey and what is possibly the greatest song ever written since Beethoven penned his ninth symphony (and probably greater than that too): Don’t Stop Believin’.When I think of America, a few things don’t come to mind. One is sushi. Another is ramparts. I’m not even sure what a rampart is. In fact, I don’t think anyone actually knows what a rampart is. However, everyone knows what streetlights, people, city boys, small town girls and midnight trains are. Why, then, does our National Anthem mention ramparts while omitting streetlights and midnight trains?”The Star Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key 194 years ago, and while it may have been awesome enough to be our national anthem then, today it is hopelessly outdated. No one even knows its last three verses. It no longer captures the essence of the contemporary American spirit, and as such, it ought to be replaced by a song that reflects the passions of our great nation and is known and loved by the entire country. I have seen Olympic athletes cry when they stand atop the podium, have a gold medal placed around their neck, and hear “The Star Spangled Banner” played in their honor. While some would say that these tears are inspired by feelings of immense joy and patriotism, I cannot help but believe that they are crying because our National Anthem is so bad. Have you ever seen people sing along to the National Anthem with any hint of enthusiasm? Most people I know don’t even sing the words, but just wait impatiently until the song is over so that whatever sporting event they are about to watch can finally begin.On the other hand, I have seen people climb atop tables in order to sing Don’t Stop Believin’. I have seen incredible displays of air-guitar virtuoso to the tune of the song, and I have seen complete strangers become best friends, if only for a moment, as they together shout the chorus of Journey’s magnum opus. America deserves a song like this.While I know that our national anthem is unlikely to be changed anytime soon due to our culture’s unfortunate aversion to change, that will not deter my efforts to give Journey’s timeless anthem the place it rightly deserves in American culture. I have a dream that someday I will find myself at a baseball game. I have a dream that before the first pitch, I will hear a voice say, “Please rise for the National Anthem.” And I have a dream that, accompanied by pyrotechnics and a low-flying jet, I will hear Journey. But until that day, my friends, don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feelin’.

Josh MollnersophomoreStanford HallFeb. 23