Hard Facts: Where is the line drawn

October 17, 2006 11:00 pm
All sports events start with the playing of the National Anthem. There have been many renditions throughout the years, both good and bad. But must we draw the line somewhere?

Yes, people need to remember that this is not their song— it is our country's song.

Francis Scott Key wrote this song while watching British ships pound Fort McHenry for 25 hours with cannons. Mary Pickersgill made the flag and displayed it in anticipation of the attack. When Key saw the flag still flying high in the early morning of Sept. 14, 1814, he found inspiration for his song.

At last Friday's game against Union and Elgin this line was crossed. A student through no fault of his own decided to use his electric guitar to play the National Anthem.

He reportedly listened to Jimmi Hendrix for inspiration, and tried to play the exact same version.

The thing about this "rendition" is that you can not make out some of the notes. All that is audible is a shrieking sound that ranks with nails on a chalk board.

Key would have rather gone down in the ship he was on than to hear his song so brutally butchered.

Hendrix played his version in 1969 at Woodstock. Do people realize Jimmi was playing this as an anti-war song? Bombs, screams and machine guns fill in as background singers. This was not played to promote America in any way. Hendrix was mocking America! Why do we want to promote this?

There were mixed reviews from the game. Some fans thought it was disgraceful, while others said it was a young boy expressing himself.

Union High School athletic director Teresa Stratton said everyone has to form their own opinion.

"The idea of how it should be played differs from person to person," Stratton said.

While everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, others should not have that opinion forced on them.

People had no choice but to listen to the song. Many said they would have rather walked out. They stayed only because of the game.

Music provides an avenue for people to express themselves. Sometimes that avenue needs to be shut down.

Young people today have plenty of ways to express themselves without coming after the "Star-Spangled Banner".

There comes a point when people cross from expression to corruption.

Americans are granted the freedom of speech, but don't we need to respect the people and the country that provide that freedom?

Many people have tried and failed miserably to sing this difficult song, but we should applaud them. Actually being able to distinguish the words of the song still gives it meaning.

The song and the flag have been entwined into the fabric of this country. Soldiers and civilians have paid the price of death to ensure that we have the freedoms we conveniently forget most people do not have.

Should we not honor them by being respectful to a song they hold dear?

The line is drawn. What side are you on?

Paul Harder is sports writer for The Observer. Reach him by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it