The National Anthem is the prized possession of the United States and has its own national holiday day on March 3rd. We sing the song at all events around the nation; graduations, various ceremonies, political events, and even sporting games. However, what is the true meaning behind this “joyous” song? Also with the amount of protest within modern times, does the anthem hold its same meaning or does it change as people are beginning to educate themselves against injustices and holding our system accountable?
The National Anthem’s general meaning and symbolism is of a battle that was fought between the British and Americans. Throughout the song, an onlooker is checking to see if the American flag that was off to the distance is still flying high although the British are dropping missiles behind or near the flag. By the end of the song, the onlooker (singers) can see that American soldiers had the upper hand and won the battle.
But where does the National Anthem being to take a turn? In the third stanza of the anthem. Written by Francis Scott King, the third stanza of the anthem was written as a “celebration of slavery.” The third stanza contains a line stating, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” which according to The New York Times writer Jennifer Schuessler, is celebrating the murder of African Americas. Much of the anthem is not about slavery, the third stanza, however, does hit at a very dark era of American history.
This dark era of American history is one that is still being compared and connected to today with the various protest, cases of police brutality, and other ways that America’s ugly heads of racism, bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice (just to name a few) are presenting itself. One case where the protest of these injustices “hit home” for many was with NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem rather than standing in allegiance.
Of course, the nation went rampant with opinions against Kaepernick and his protest. The reasoning behind his kneeling was as a form of resistance against a nation that did little to help against the brutality of people of color by police forces; “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color, “Kaepernick posted as a statement that could be seen on the NFL’s website.
Kaepernick and many other people of color throughout the nation are not protesting just to be “rebels”. Many people are understanding and standing against the system for their right to live freely, as even said in the anthem, in the United States. For hundreds of years’ people of different backgrounds have struggled to make a way for themselves in this nation. Today, people are not willing to stand by anymore. People are understanding and taking the “land of the free, and the home of the brave” into their own hands.