Recently, my precocious 7-year-old granddaughter wanted to know the words to our national anthem and why they are as they are.
In the nature of the case, I had to explain that all the words revolve around standing by in warfare watching to see whether our flag would make it intact through the “rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”
There is nothing about the exceptionalism so otherwise evident in praise raised to our nation. Nor is a single word or phrase present saluting the God we so often insist is our special benefactor.
My granddaughter was not impressed.
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“But we are so blessed by nature. And peace is better than war, isn’t it, Grandpa?”
I went on to tell her there is a wonderful song we do have that might better serve her expressed preference: “God Bless America.”
“God bless America, land that I love.
“Stand beside her and guide her
“Through the night with a light from above.
“From the mountains, to the prairies,
“To the oceans white with foam.
“God bless America,
“My home sweet home.”
When I finished making the comparison, I sat and simply wept. She asked me what was the matter, why was I crying.
“That second song is so much nicer, why don’t we have that as our anthem?”
“Indeed. That is why I am crying, little one.”
The eyes of a child can discern what we adults seem to lack.
Bob Bealer, State College