Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I am an American.

Today I attended a political debate hosted by my university. Each side was represented by two members of their club; democrat and republican. I myself have not committed myself to either party; however, the democrats were more successful at pleading their case.
When it came down to vote it was quite obvious the democrats would win. As we waited for the ballots to be counted one of the representatives volunteered to sing the national anthem to entertain us. I have never been so embarrassed or uncomfortable in my life. This student purposefully sang the national anthem as silly as he could and made a compete mockery of it. Not only were all the students sitting and laughing at every note, no flag was raised, no hand place on any heart, no respect given,  but I was sitting next to my good friend who is in the United States Air Force. I cringed in disappointment as he stood to honor this song. He stood amongst the student body, disappointed himself, at the lack of respect given to him, what he represents, and the words in the song.
When the student finished the song the other students cheered and laughed while his pleased grin demonstrated how funny he though he was. I'm sure he truly meant no respect by mocking the national anthem, but it just really shocked me. For someone who is well versed on American politics and history, he should have known better. 
My friend immediately left; not saying a word. I sat there for a few minutes and tried to collect my thoughts. As admirers congratulated the student, I decided to wait in line to let him know just how I felt. When it was my turn, I tried to be as polite as I could and said, 'hey congratulations on your win, but next time you sing that song can you take it seriously? There were people in the military in the room and it was really disrespectful.' His grin immediately vanished as his apologized and hopefully realized what a fool he made out of himself. I couldn't help but fight back tears as I walked away. I'm not sure why I was so emotional, but I have thought quite a bit about it.
Initially, I think I was sorry that my friend had to stand in the middle of that scene. I'm probably being too dramatic and blowing this out of proportion, but I was appalled by the actions taken by the students and the reps of the political clubs. Whether they were democratic or republican, we are all Americans and is it too much to ask for them to be respectful?
Even in light of the fact that yesterday was 9/11, (and what happened in Egypt and Libya) that kid did not think that that would be inappropriate or disrespectful. Having lived in a foreign country, which I know many BYU students have, we have so much to be grateful for as Americans that we take for granted everyday. We have things that people in other countries don't even dream about. As a woman, I have more rights and opportunities that women in other countries can't even fathom. I have those because my friend, and others like him, and fought and died for them. Regardless of who wins this upcoming election, American's will be 100% better off than almost 70% of those living on this planet. I am not a democrat or a republican. I am an American. 

Please consider the lyrics to our national anthem- The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Here is a link to learn more about the significance of the song.

And here is how it's supposed to sound.