Should ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ Be Replaced With a New National Anthem?

Photo Credit: Ministries Coordinator

Amid ongoing protests and discussions pertaining to race relations and the contemporary prevalence of American historical figures, some are calling for the replacement of the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The ongoing dialogue about race appeared to turn to “The Star-Spangled Banner” shortly after a crowd toppled a statue of Francis Scott Key in San Francisco, California.

For additional background, Key, a lawyer and distant cousin of The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald, wrote a poem entitled “Defence of Fort M’Henry” in 1814, shortly after witnessing the bombardment of Baltimore, Maryland’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. At the time, he was jailed aboard a British warship as part of hostage negotiations approved by President James Madison.

To be certain that Key wouldn’t relay information about their plans or positioning ahead of the battle for the strategically valuable fort, British generals insisted that he remain onboard the vessel until the conflict had concluded. The 35-year-old had a distant view of the fighting, but his vision was eventually obscured by rainfall and darkness.

The following morning, however, Francis Scott Key saw that the American flag was still flying high over Fort McHenry – meaning that American troops had repelled the British assault. He was inspired to write the aforementioned poem shortly after the fact, and the first stanza of the relatively lengthy work was ultimately set to composer John Stafford Smith’s popular “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

“The Star-Spangled Banner” formally became America’s national anthem in 1931, after President Herbert Hoover signed off on the corresponding congressional resolution.

During his lifetime, Key maintained a complex, seemingly contradictory stance on race, personally owning six slaves (who he eventually freed) and opposing the abolitionist movement as U.S. Attorney. But he also worked to transport free African Americans to African colonies and publicly declared slavery to be an “abomination.”

Social media users on both sides of the argument are voicing their opinions.

“The author of [the] American national anthem, Francis Scott Key, was a racist that hated black people. You should read the third stanza of what he wrote,” wrote one Twitter user.

(This individual was likely referring to the line “no refuge could save the hireling and slave” in the third stanza of “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” Key never elaborated on its meaning, and scholars have long debated the verse’s precise intent.)

“Since we’re speaking out against sh*t that feels racist. I’d be down for a new national anthem since Francis Scott Key was a racist. Also, into the idea of a new flag,” tweeted another individual.

A different person stated: “What’s wrong with the Star-Spangled Banner? Oh I know…we are tossing history and tradition out. Guess all that sacrifice by great-granddad will be forgotten too.”

More as this develops.

23 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Milton A.

    “Should ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ Be Replaced With a New National Anthem?” – No.

    • Avatar
      Jeff

      Not only no, but HELL NO! We are one of the newest nations compared to Europe/Asia, and our flag and national anthem is one of the few things that have ties to our past. I’m not going to let some bored far-left protestors and looters erase our history like the Taliban tried to do in the middle east.

      • Avatar
        Bob

        You had a case until you went to blame the left. Fail

  2. Avatar
    Jerry

    Probably not, but I understand the backstory to Scott Key and his being a racist person who was ‘of his time’.

  3. Avatar
    Good luck with that

    Whatever song these imbeciles come up with will never be as good as the Star Spangled Banner.

    • Avatar
      Ollie

      Maybe, maybe not. We’ll never know because of a bias in place toward what we already know. Although, that said, most people don’t know what the national anthem is, much less the words to it.

  4. Avatar
    Johnny J. Blair "Singer at Large"

    I believe it should be replaced with the song “America the Beautiful” for 4 reasons:

    1. The lyrics to “America” are more accurate and balanced in describing America’s culture. The words cite our flawed humanity as well as our accomplishments and blessings. Wartime impressions are in there, but so are peace time impressions.

    2. “America” is easier to sing and has a sacred ambience. “Star Spangled Banner” is a notorious difficult melody and it was based on a British drinking song nobody wants to remember anyway.

    3. Changing the national anthem to “America” would resolve the current conflict over race issues. Leave the complications of Key’s intentions to the academics.

    4. History stays the same, but traditions are constantly being updated. Defending “Star Spangled Banner” purely on the count of preserving tradition is a non-starter.

    Cheers to America!

    • Avatar
      Laurah Graham

      “America the Beautiful” is a much better song and is much easier to sing. The current anthem is problematic on several levels.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      Absolutely! Do it right this time! America the beautiful is a much better song in all respects!

    • Avatar
      Hitney Plidnit

      As a very long time musician, I think America the Beautiful is the overall superior song. Trouble is most people want what they want and don’t care what anyone else says about it.

    • Avatar
      Mike Moreland

      My vote would be “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie! But I’d be happy with America the Beautiful to…

  5. Avatar
    restless94110

    Simple answer: No. Never.

    But anyone who calls for replacement should be canceled immediately and completely.

    • Avatar
      Angelito

      Your comments are pretty worthless normally. Hey, you did it again.

  6. Avatar
    Jason

    You can’t erase our history, only learn from it. Getting rid of all these statues and the national anthem is like what the Russian Communists did in 1918. BLM is a marxist/socialist movement more than a racial-equality based motivation.

    USSR Marxism failed in 1990 after 70+ years, US capitalism and the constitution survived several wars and even a civil war for 200+ years. We don’t need the far-left to take over this country and use racial justice to implement USSR-like government that is doomed to fail.

  7. Avatar
    Damon

    Please get back on your meds. Your comments come from someone who has truly never been oppressed, had liberty and/or freedom taken from you. Your words don’t hold much weight in this.

  8. Avatar
    lf

    Read the last line of the first stanza (which is the only stanza anyone ever sings):

    “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

    Notice anything odd all you patriots and musicologists?

    IT ENDS WITH A QUESTION MARK! It’s an interrogative. Yet, every American sings it as if it’s a declarative sentence.

    And that’s why America’s national anthem is:

    A. Completely absurd
    B. Totally appropriate for America

  9. Avatar
    lf

    The clarinettist Anthony McGill, playing “America the Beautiful” in a minor key.

    On May 27th, two days after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd, Anthony McGill, the principal clarinettist of the New York Philharmonic, posted a recording of himself playing “America the Beautiful.” It is a rendition with a difference. McGill begins by swelling slowly into an initial G, from silence. When he reaches the portion of the melody matching the words “America, America,” he changes a high E-natural to an E-flat, thereby wrenching the key from C major to C minor. He remains in the minor mode to the end. Then he goes down on both knees, his clarinet behind his back, as if shackled, and bends his head. The video, titled “TakeTwoKnees,” lasts about ninety seconds, but it has the weight of a symphonic statement.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM1G-Iti7Ns

    Musicians and Composers Respond to a Chaotic Moment
    The pandemic and the protests inspire works of lamentation and rage.

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/06/musicians-and-composers-respond-to-a-chaotic-moment

  10. Avatar
    anonymous

    Hey, it’s a fine tune that lends itself to multiple interpretations; has gotten the US through some difficult history. And when in doubt, think on what Hendrix did with it.

    • Avatar
      me

      An American “anthem” stolen from a British national. Sound right.

      I would strongly advocate for the Alka-Seltzer jingle as America” anthem”:

      Plop plop
      Fizz fizz
      Oh, what a relief it is.