Respecting the National Anthem

Originally published at Fox News : Opinion

Soldier Celebrating Victory Armed Forces American Flag
Respecting the National Anthem
Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- As the controversy over athletes boycotting the National Anthem continues, I would like to share some historical perspective.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” became part of our sports traditions for a good reason: It brought people together in times of grave national turmoil. For this reason alone, it is a tradition worth respecting.

According to MLB.com, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was first performed at a baseball game on May 15, 1862. Given baseball’s lengthy history in America, this is likely the first time it was played at a major U.S. sporting event.

The timing was significant. In 1862, the nation was embroiled in the Civil War. America was as divided as it had ever been. People were fighting and lives were being lost in battle. It was a dark time for our still young country.

So, William Cammeyer, a businessman who was opening Union Grounds park in Brooklyn, decided to do something that would bring the nearly 3,000 people in attendance at the first game together and unify them as Americans. The band played “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It wasn’t officially the National Anthem at the time, but it was still respected as a deeply patriotic, uniquely American song.

Fifty-six years later, America entered World War I, and the nation was once again thrown into turmoil. Major League Baseball had cut the season short because players had been drafted or enlisted to go fight the Great War overseas – and teams were expected to sacrifice and contribute to the war effort.

During the seventh inning stretch of the first game of the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed.

The song had a profound impact on both the crowd and the players, as The New York Times reported September 6, 1918:

“The yawn was checked and the heads were bared as the ball players turned quickly about and faced the music. Jackie Fred Thomas of the U.S. Navy [the Red Sox’s third baseman] was at attention, as he stood erect, with his eyes set on the flag fluttering at the top of the lofty pole in right field. First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day’s enthusiasm.”

This 100-year-old story by the Times perfectly captures why we respect Francis Scott Key’s battle hymn for the War of 1812 – and why beginning in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered it to be played during military and naval occasions, and why later it was officially confirmed as our National Anthem by an Act of Congress in 1931.

Historically, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been part of the shared story of all Americans – a strand of common thread that stitches our nation together. In times of danger, times of pain, and times of triumph, we come together, stand, and sing, because despite our differences, we are all Americans.

But day-by-day, the Left tries to undermine and destroy the things that have historically unified this country. The NFL National Anthem controversy is just the latest example of this.

My fear is that the NFL will succumb to pressure and try to side-step the problem by no longer performing the National Anthem before games. This would be the worst path to take.

As a nation, we need to have a serious debate: Will we renew our patriotism and respect our shared history, or will we allow our American institutions to decay? Are we going to ignore our traditions out of fear of ridicule from the Left, or are we going to proudly continue to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814 for an America that was worth fighting for and defending.

It still is. We need to defend it.

Your Friend,
Newt

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About Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is well-known as the architect of the “Contract with America” that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. After he was elected Speaker, he disrupted the status quo by moving power out of Washington and back to the American people.

Gingrich Productions is a performance and production company featuring the work of Newt Gingrich and Callista Gingrich. Visit : www.gingrichproductions.com

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    BudtomcatOldmarineWhite RoseWild Bill Recent comment authors
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    Bud
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    Bud

    If anything is evident, it is that these spoiled, over paid brats have no appreciation for their country and those who died to give them the privileged life they lead. Quit buying tickets and turn your TV to some other station for a while. When the money flow stops you will have their attention.

    White Rose
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    White Rose

    Patriotisms reach is best viewed from the breadth and reach of our Constitution and its legacy. Defining patriotism as limited to military escapades, or symbols of Flag of country or National Anthems omits so so much more and shuts off any other form of expression that from its actors are patriotic. There are two books out that I would encourage their review: the Devils Chessboard and Operation Paperclip. They offer a documented presentation of acts of patriotism as viewed by its actors that lean toward the dark side of human behavior and are inconsistent with our Constitutional framing. Attachments to… Read more »

    Marc Disabled Vet
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    Marc Disabled Vet

    Most Veterans My age share some of the same things . Most have been to Hell and Back just by stepping off a airplane in DaNang or Tan sun hute. We if lucky have , families and real lucky grand or great gran children . The next Generation to come fourth Like my Nephew He stood on the Deck of an Aircraft carrier in the Gulf, waiting for his plane to come back. He just ended his , carrier of 21 Riding a helicopter with a Saw in his hands . Do you think those on their knees could possibly… Read more »

    Wild Bill
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    Wild Bill

    @Marc DV, I don’t think that you have to say any more on that topic; you’ve covered ti nicely.

    Oldmarine
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    Oldmarine

    Most perfectly said >>> Oldmarine

    tomcat
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    tomcat

    @Mark D.V. Good article and I am not going to try to say anything else because you covered it all.

    VE Veteran - Old Man's Club
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    VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

    This nation despite all of its ills and problems is still worth fighting for and defending. We still have freedoms that other countries don’t have and nobody is looking to put a bullet in your head for opposing points of view or criticizing the government. A nation that was born out of a fight to be free, and still the best nation on earth. Our flag is battle tested and true, and our National Anthem was born out of a fight that looked doubtful for most of a night with the might of the British Navy arrayed against it. But… Read more »

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @LCpl. Craft, Khe Sahn, ouch. Thank you for your service and living to tell the youth about it.

    VE Veteran - Old Man's Club
    Guest
    VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

    Sorry but I’m not LCpl Craft. I couldn’t even walk in his shoes. That brother has all my respect as he went from Con Thien right to Khe Sahn just in time for the 77 days of fun brought to them by the Communist NVA.

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @VE Oh, well… could you thank him for me!

    Oldmarine
    Guest
    Oldmarine

    “HURAH ”
    Semper Fi