Monday, January 28, 2008

Oh (say can you see) Canada!

This weekend, I attended a cheer competition to watch Marlo's squad participate. Before the event began, two high school students sung both the Canadian and the American national anthems. Hearing the two songs sung back-to-back, I make the following observations:

First, I begin with one of the small consolations I have as a parent these days: telling an amusing story that will embarrass my child. When Marlo was ten years old, her school was having try-outs for a school musical centered on the colonies and the revolutionary war. Marlo’s audition piece was “Oh Canada,” which she had learned from going to the sprint car races at Skagit Speedway. I think in her mind there was no distinction between the two nations, just one great big world filled with people.

Now that I have satisfied that need, I will move on to my observations from the cheer competition. Both girls did a fantastic job singing. However, the U.S. national anthem was accompanied by various whoops and hollers from the crowd whenever the girl hit the high notes or embellished the tune with various pop-style warbles. Overall, I was struck by how sing-able the Canadian national anthem is and how one is focused on the words of the song. When listening to our own national anthem, I believe the crowd focused more on whether the girl could successfully sing it than the meaning of the song.

Aside from the obvious downside to having a national anthem where people cheer more for the singer than the song at the end, I doubt you could find ten random Americans who even know what a rampart is. In addition, in my opinion, catcalls, whoops and whistles have no business accompanying the national anthem. If Congress in 1931 could have foreseen this future, they might have re-thought their resolution to adopt the “Star Spangled Banner” as our anthem.

No comments: