Now, I’m not super patriotic or anything - I’m not the kind to go running the streets on Canada Day dressed in a flag with my face painted red and white, and I wouldn’t bother flying a flag on my lawn if I had one. But still, I do love and appreciate my country, and I feel a sense of pride in being a Canadian. We’re lucky to be Canadians. We have freedoms here that other countries can only imagine - resources like public healthcare, old age security, and generous unemployment insurance. We’re generally a very accepting nation - embracing all religions and ethnicities, sexual orientations, families of all sorts and sizes. Things like gay marriage and abortion are non-issues because they are considered inherent personal freedoms.
I mean sure, some things like healthcare are less than perfect - and the government and current Prime Minister definitely leave something to be desired, but overall, this is an amazing, great place to live. And I’m proud of that. Proud I can be a part of that - no matter where I may end up living or travelling in the world.
And yet - there’s this. This letter-writer sums it up well. We can no longer sing our national anthem. We can no longer have crowds in the thousands join together in song….because most of us don’t know the music. A recent study I read found that 70% of high school students don’t know the words of the anthem. Don’t know the national anthem. Like I said, I don’t exactly wake up every morning and stand at attention and sing it myself - but this? This breaks my heart a little. This disappoints me so much. We should all be grateful we get to sing Oh Canada.
I bet almost every child in America knows their national anthem. I bet kids in England know God Save the Queen.
Come on, people - we need to care a little more.
Because it’s you, I did some research. According to the National Anthem Project:
Americans Don’t Know The National Anthem As Well As They Think
- Nearly two in three Americans (61%) don’t know all of the words to the Star Spangled Banner
- Of those who claim to know all the words, only 39 percent know what follows “whose broad stripes and bright stars” (answer:“through the perilous fight” )
- 34 percent answered “were so gallantly streaming”
- 19 percent answered "gave proof through the night”
- Interestingly, of those who answered correctly, 58 percent had received at least five years of music in schools growing up
While not quite as bad as your numbers, it’s still an appalling number, especially when you consider the rampant patriotism in this country. We are taught, as Americans, that America is the best country, the only country and that everyone else in the world a) only wishes they were like America and b) only exists because of our generosity.
Given that knowledge, is it any wonder that so many Americans can be so ridiculous when they travel outside of the country? After all - we’re visiting a lesser country with lesser, non-English speaking people, right?
It’s More Than Just Music
- More than 40 percent of adults who had at least five years of music describe themselves as volunteers, as compared to only 18 percent of adults who received less than one year of music education
- 55 percent of more seasoned music students describe themselves as active in their communities, while only 39 percent of the less trained describe themselves as engaged in their communities.
- Those with more music in school as children were also more inclined to describe themselves as a leader, creative and “an American”
On top of that, education is a real problem in this country. Our numbers have dropped drastically over the last 40 years, and subjects like history, fine arts, language and literature are more and more often moved to the back burner in favor of things like sports and technology. I agree that technology and jobs in that field are the way of the future, but we can’t forget our past or we’ll make the same mistakes, right?
Tales of American History Are Being Silenced
- More than 70 percent of Americans claim to be patriotic
- But that said, only a little more than half of Americans feel aware of U.S. history (56 percent)
And the final, very real, very sad numbers:
Additional ABC News Poll Shows Issue Particularly Relevant Among Teens
- One in three (38%) don’t know the official name of National Anthem (Star-Spangled Banner)
- Less than 35 percent of American teens can name the author of the National Anthem (Francis Scott Key)
- As few as 15 percent of American youth can sing the words to the anthem from memory
So don’t fret, my sister. Or fret more, I should say. It’s not just your country on the decline.
Everyone needs to remember where they come from. We are America and we do need to remember that we are the greatest country on Earth - if not because of our actions or our history, but because of our pride in our country.