Singing “The Star Spangled Banner” Do you or not?

The musicians entered, taking their places, standing behind music stands. The conductor, long and lean Italian Gianandrea Noseda, strutted in, raised his baton and cued the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, on tour in the US, to play the “Star Spangled Banner.” Unknown The audience rose to its feet and remained standing for the playing of the Israeli equivalent, “Hatikvah.

National Anthem performances are expected at the onsets of sports events or the awarding of medals at closing ceremonies. I certainly heard my share attending sports throughout high school, and as my sons took the field in their high school’s marching band or the mats before wrestling matches. At a classical concert, it’s less popular. Perhaps visiting orchestras, as ambassadors from their countries, play the two anthems as a sign of respect and good will.

Whatever the reason, I enjoyed it, and liked the chance to stand before sitting for the three-hour concert featuring French composers, and the opportunity to sing. I don’t know “Hativah” or any other countries’ anthems, and while I’m no competition for Renee Fleming at this year’s Super Bowl, I like singing the US National Anthem. I know the criticisms: it’s too hard and high; it celebrates war. I don’t care.

Looking around me, listening, though, I didn’t hear anyone join in. Why not?  At sports events, some do, some don’t. I haven’t been able to find any justification of whether its appropriate to sing along, or inappropriate not to; I think it’s personal preference.

It’s the start of baseball season and with that, lots of anthems ahead. I’d say: don’t be shy, sing out!

What’s your preference? To sing or not? Blogger friends from overseas—share your anthems!


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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13 Responses to Singing “The Star Spangled Banner” Do you or not?

  1. Yes, sing with pride, sing with joy and sing of being grateful to live in this wonderful, free country.


  2. I always get a bit teary with it. After being in Russia, I’m very grateful.


  3. Drjcwash says:

    I always love singing and trying to remember the words but when Renee Fleming sings, I do hang on every perfectly song note and the words just sound so beautiful.


  4. It actually never occurred to me to sing along. But I always stand and put my hand over my heart. Next time, I just might sing!


  5. I sing along to O Canada and it always brings a tear to my eye, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the line that says, God keep our land glorious and free…


  6. It’s one of most beautiful anthems.


  7. I think it’s fun and moving to sing the national anthem, so I do. I don’t have much of a singing voice. I bet I don’t spur others on to sing but I like letting the words come out (although I agree it’s a tricky song, but since I’m from Baltimore, I’m extra-fond of it.)


  8. It’s funny to me that so few participate anymore. In other countries where I’ve had the opportunity to hear anthems (Canada, New Zealand, Mexico) it seems like everyone joins in with enthusiasm and pride. Have we lost that here? Are we missing a sense of national community? Seems like it sometimes. Great post, Cyclinggrandma!


  9. And I’m not sure it’s taught in schools. I remember in elementary school singing a song after the Pledge of Alliegience. So few bother to say the pledge. Sad, really.


  10. I love singing O Canada — I don’t know the words to Star Spangled Banner other than… Ooh say can you see by the stars shining light — and as I type them I wonder.. is that correct? Or do I just sing those words because that’s what I think they are? 🙂

    In Canada, it seems that people always sing the words — I always thought all Americans joined in theirs too — interesting that your observations, and others, is to the contrary.


  11. Oh say can you see is correct. I didn’t realize there are several verses beyond the 1st that is usually sung. Love “O Canada.”


  12. grandmalin says:

    I sing if the MC says ‘please join in the singing of our national anthem’ but not when it’s on tv. That would be weird. And I’m not fluent on the French parts. Other than that I think it’s fine to show your respect and some pride in your country by singing out loud and strong.


  13. OmaOrBubby says:

    I like singing it. I love belting the high notes. It’s a song we all grew up with, memorized and enjoyed. So when I’m at a dodger game or wherever, and they are singing the Star-Spangled Banner, I grab the opportunity to join others in what I feel is a unifying moment. I guess I’m the sentimental type. :).


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