Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 12 of 13 < 1 2 ... 10 11 12 13 >
Topic Options
#41371 - 09/16/01 08:05 PM Re: More British support
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
an article I read long ago written by Isaac Asimov in which he bemoaned the fact that the anthem in its entirety, including the more openly anti-British stanzas, is not sung more often.

A scene recalled from several years ago: George Bush Sr., then the President, stood at attention while a singer, accompanied by band, sang "America the Beautiful". Bush was quietly singing along, to all four verses, and a little lip-reading made it obvious he knew all the words. That song's lyrics, unlike our anthem's, are not bloodthirsty. One thought expessed, of note today:

America, America,
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul
In self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

#41372 - 09/16/01 08:30 PM Re: Empire State bldg.
nancyk Offline

Registered: 03/09/01
Posts: 508
Loc: Metro Detroit (MI)
building has been left unilluminated at night since
NBC's coverage just ended with a shot of the Empire State Building - now proudly illuminated red white and blue at the top. The queen of the New York skyline sadly reigns again, reclaiming her status as the most recognizable skyscraper.

#41373 - 09/16/01 09:49 PM Re: More British support
inselpeter Offline

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
I've been meaning to keep the number of these things to a limit, but I have to tell you about this extraordinary experience I had this evening. At about 6:00, my brother phoned to say there was a rally being held on the Promenade at Brooklyn Heights for Muslims and non-Muslims to show solidarity. By the time I arrived, people were already leaving, but the crowd was still substantial. The promenade offers a spectacular view (sorry, it's such a tempting redundancy) of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as Governor's Island and the inner harbor and all the other islands in the inner harbor and the Verazzano bridge…you get the picture. A column of dust rises behind the buildings which once were footlights to the World Trade Center. Okay, you've had enough of these descriptions by now-I'm sure.

As I approached the Promenade proper, someone was singing "We Shall Overcome" over the p.a. system. I joined in heartily, but hardly anyone else did, there at the entrance. Then another singer sang something else I didn't know and then something I did know but couldn't sing in that key. And nothing happened after that.

After a while, I began to sing something, I think it's by Rav Nachman-at any rate, it's by a Jewish mystic, I believe, of the 18th or 19th Century (I believe-so, what else is new). The song is called "Kol HaOlam Ku-lo" I guess. It has a very simple lyric: "All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to fear, not to fear at all." I began just singing to myself. Standing on a park bench, in a crowd and sunglasses. But then the song carried me away and I sang it out. My eyes were shut and my legs were shaking.

When I finished, a small Jewish group nearby started singing "Heeneh ma tov" a very popular song from a Psalm of David: "Behold, how good it is [when] brothers sit together." After a while, that petered out and I began to sing "This Land is Your land." That finally got people going. We sang the two verses everyone knows and then looped back and did them again and finally threw in a couple of rounds of the chorus for good measure.

Then nobody could think of anything. My 'sister-in-law' suggested "Give Peace a Chance," but, come on, who knows the words or something? Well, we've been listening to the Star Spangled Banner a lot on the radio lately and I've been thinking about the lyrics.

Sorry, this needs a new paragraph. How the flag is *still there. And, after all, sullied as it may have been by the Vietnam War, the national anthem really isn't a war mongering song, it is about the battle of our independence. And if that makes you raise an eyebrow, I'd say I'm pretty much on the left, but I'm not orthodox. I'd been thinking about singing the Star Spangled Banner in front of the firehouse, anyway. In homage. So I sang it.

The objections came instantaneously. 'It is a war song.' Well, I'd started, and I wasn't about to stop. And here is the extraordinary part. I sang the national anthem and no one but my brother, in a display of solidarity with me, sang. Not only that, they said hostile things. And not only that, I watched them walk away from me. I wish I'd had my video camera. It was absolutely extraordinary. All of them walked away, and if they didn't walk away, they turned their backs.

I have no conclusions to draw from it, at the moment. But I think it was more sad than bizarre.

And it was very bizarre.

#41374 - 09/17/01 04:14 AM Re: More British support
belligerentyouth Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 1055
Loc: Berlin
dear inselpeter,

perhaps people didn't sing along to your rendition of ASSB because they, as many others, particularly in such a melting-pot as NYC, don't feel the need to support an upsurge in patriotism in a country already swelling at the breast with pride. Perhaps they feel the need to think about global solidarity rather than hum that old tune. Some might go so far as to say that we live in a post-nationalist world - which the worldwide reactions to the murders, seen by many as an issue of cosmopolitan import, seem to confirm.

#41375 - 09/17/01 05:21 AM Re: More British support
inselpeter Offline

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
Dear Blligerentyouth,

I think my posts until now suggest my agreement with the substance of your reply. For obvious reasons, The Star Spangled Banner became an emblem, to many, of shame during the Vietnam War. I grew up during that era and, believe me, the song still makes me uncomfortable. But listening to it--actually, singing it to myself--yesterday, I heard not something new in it but something old. The anthem does not glorify war but pays homage to indomitable spirit, to knowing what you would die for and living for it. Not even "the rockets' red glare" glorifies war. It speaks of the mortal danger of being under attack and standing firm, surviving with the integrity of one's humanity. As I write this I also realize that Key was not writing about *our rockets, but the rockets of the British. He is writing of the irony, if you will, of that same indomitable spirit made apparent in adversity.

That spirit is not something I have really understood before, and it is fundamental. Regarding the question of will, I would suggest we may not, in certain ways, will to live: we have no choice in the matter. As Heidegger says, sort of, we are thrown into being. But we can will how we live--we can know what we live for. This is related to what I meant when I replied to bel that people are not inherently good. To be 'good' is to choose to be good, to know what you would die for, and live for it.

The tenacity of life is palpable on many levels here, these days. On both the 'rudimentary' level of "throwness" and fear of death, and on the levels I have suggested are the sacred illusion of humanity. It is an illusion, partly, because we are not born with it. We choose it.

Speaking for myself, and emotionally, I would have no problem seeing the criminals who killed these members of our, yes, cosmopolitan community put before the firing squad. That may well be a 'justified' emotion and an unjustifiable response. I can't really work it out right now. But there must be no more carnage.

The birth memorialized in The Star Spangled Banner is of a nation which, in spite of our bitter history, has been dedicated to the principle that all [men] are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights...

I know the above paragraph is rife with irony and susceptible to skeptical retort. In spite of all the carnage and injustice in our history, our country is not without nobility. In spite of our parochialism, our country is hugely cosmopolitan.

I remain uncomfortable singing the national anthem and, if I may, to do so publicly is an act of courage, not so much before others as before myself. I sing it to remember the good, long buried in the export--and domestic implementation--of violence and economic repression. And I sang it yesterday because, I hoped, we could sing it together: Muslim and non-Muslim to say "all of us belong here, and the guarantee of freedom belongs to us all."

Seeing all the flags sprouting, it is hard not to be concerned about nationalism. But in the wake of these events, we-here--seek symbols which unite us. It is hard to express just how important this is. Patriotism is fraught with difficulty and yet, we recognize will to stand by each other. This rift in time will pass, and symbols will be reburdened with there usual difficult meanings. The display of the flag--my displaying it--or singing the national anthem is without rancor. It is to memorialize, in what might be described as an existential sense, the very best this country has stood for. It is to live for freedom and the sanctity of life. At the very least, it is to try to step away from cynicism and endorse as something far deeper than rhetoric, the spirit we may preserve in our constitution.

As a final note, I am surprised I could write this. I am not even sure I agree with everything I've said. I do, however, think the orthodox rejection of this symbolism and adoption of that is, in its particular development, often as narrow-minded and divisive as the qualities it derides.

The crisis here produces some unusual thoughts.

#41376 - 09/17/01 05:38 AM Re: New York
inselpeter Offline

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
<<there is at least one other possibility..>>

This evening is Rosh Hashana, [one of] the Jewish new year[s]. We are in the month of Elul, "the days of awe," the period of national (in the ancient sense) penance.

#41377 - 09/17/01 07:56 AM Re: More British support
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Dearest insel.,

You sweet thing, thank you for sharing so much with us--and please, keep it up, for as long as you want to, smoke descriptions and all. We can turn our televisions off and obtain some relief--you cannot, and if telling us here helps you any at all, Dear Heart, you just keep right on typing, until your fingers can't type any more.

That was bizarre, that you were so scorned for singing the national anthem. I don't understand that, at all. Perhaps
it was just me, perhaps it was my region, but---I don't recall there being a movement of criticism about the anthem, let alone that it's a "war song"--that is utterly ridiculous. I found a lovely site that describes how it came to be written. I'd love to put it all here, but it's just too long. The story of how the flag that Francis Scott Key saw came into being is neat. I, for one, get choked up just about every time I hear our national anthem, no matter the setting.

#41378 - 09/17/01 04:01 PM Re: More British support
Capital Kiwi Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 3146
Loc: Northamptonshire, England
Oooh, I dunno. The song was written in the face of possible national annihilation by the British and begun under attack by them at that (thanks Jackie). I rather liked the irony of it being so popular in the UK right now ...

I must confess to amazement at the level of fellow-feeling there is towards the US by the British. I think that Tony Blair, overblown rhetoric and all, is really reflecting the British point of view, given what I've been hearing here in provincial, very, very provincial, Wellingborough.

The idiot also known as Capfka ...

#41379 - 09/17/01 07:21 PM Re: World-wide support
wow Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/25/00
Posts: 3439
Loc: New England, USA
This link has pictures from around the world at American Embassies and other places. LOTS of pictures. May not be up long so ...


#41380 - 09/17/01 09:21 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409

Page 12 of 13 < 1 2 ... 10 11 12 13 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8966 Members
16 Forums
13869 Topics
222523 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
dorrick, thedesertsimmom, LostAuthor, Joe_Lee, David_Lee
8966 Registered Users
Who's Online
0 registered (), 43 Guests and 3 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
wofahulicodoc 54
LukeJavan8 39
may2point0 36
delirium 4
DavidLaurence 1
Curtis 1
A C Bowden 1
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11613
tsuwm 10538
LukeJavan8 8539
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
wofahulicodoc 6937
AnnaStrophic 6511
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2016 Wordsmith