NEWS BLOG (WSAU) If you’re up early tomorrow morning (or any weekday morning), you’ll hear the National Anthem played on WSAU right before the 5am news. The version we’ve used for years is from the U.S. Marine Band, a traditional, upbeat, brass-laden instrumental.
Shortly after arriving at WSAU, Seth Mela asked if he could, from time to time, pick an alternate version of the National Anthem. I agreed. And now on Friday mornings we air a rock & roll electric guitar version of The Star Spangled Banner.
You’d be amazed at how many complaint calls I’ve received. Some people think that it’s disrespectful.
If our National Anthem is somehow being mocked or ridiculed (think Rosanne Barr at the Padres baseball game from 1990), I’d be offended. But that’s not what’s happening here. On Friday mornings, a rock band is honoring our country. To me it’s no different than an all-strings orchestra, or an organist, or an acapella singer performing our national song. Since covering high school sports this year, I’ve heard dozens of National Anthem performances, from trumpet solos, to marching bands, from country crooners to soulful R & B belters. I’ve heard high schoolers struggle in their performances, and grade-schoolers who were excellent.
We all have our favorites. I prefer the traditional arrangement of the music. I also prefer it to be sung up-tempo, symbolizing America on-the-march, instead of as a mournful hymn or funeral dirge. But this is a kind of diversity that I celebrate. If our country is being saluted by a Mexican mariachi band, or a German um-pa band, or Jimi Hendrix on his Fender Stratocaster, I’ll still stand up, remove my cap, and place my hand over my heart. I wonder why others are offended.