Driving to lunch today with the hubby, we heard an a cappella group singing the National Anthem on the radio. I glanced at the clock on the front of the real estate office we were passing and noticed it was noon – exactly when the country radio stations in our market play “The Star Spangled Banner” every single day.
When I worked at a radio station a few years ago – not a country station – I can honestly say that, unless we were jumping on a patriotic bandwagon on the Fourth of July or commemoration of some national disaster, I never heard the National Anthem played on our airwaves.
Never heard it on oldies stations or rock ‘n roll stations either. I don’t listen to talk radio, so I can’t speak for them, but the country stations I bounce between in my car always show their red, white and blue roots at midday.
I wonder what would happen if the noontime slot of every radio station were to become the Star Spangled Banner slot. It used to be how TV stations signed off at the end of programming (remember when TV actually went off the air?) and it starts every sports game and many community events. What if we made it a song we heard every day – and not because we had to, but because we wanted to?
We might find ourselves unconsciously humming “and the rocket’s red glare” while we pour our coffee or as we drum our fingers on the steering wheel waiting at a light.
We might even remember why it was written; what it stands for and the sacrifices in the light of those bombs bursting midair.
Or we might simply find it to be a unifying, feel-good song that reminds us we get to play any song we want, anytime we want, anywhere we want because we live in a free country.
I’m not trying to get too sappy patriotic here, although anyone who knows me knows I puddle up at many flag-waving events. I am the proud daughter of a Navy veteran who fought in World War II and the proud mother of an Army veteran who fought in Iraq.
Just one song where everyone knows the words, played to remind us that we are pretty darn lucky to live in the land of the free. I kind of like that.
Speaking of the land of the free and the people who serve, I have to do some proud mama bragging. Today, my son and two of his friends (also veterans) joined legislators in Washington D.C. to promote improved veteran health benefits. They met with decision makers, made their case for those who serve and spoke up for many others who could not be there in person. They made connections that may improve the situation for our veterans now and in the long run. What they did today may change people’s lives for the better.
I get a lot of emails from petition sites that ask for my signature to support a variety of causes. Other emails and Facebook pleas ask me to come to a meeting or write a letter or speak up to encourage or stop or revise a plan or movement. With only 24 hours a day and no expansion plan in the near future, I have to pick and choose which I support. Those that reflect my beliefs the best get a signature, a donation or some time and talent.
Judging from my philanthropic and volunteer activity, I am against hunger, breed-specific legislation and the oppression of women and for marriage equality, veterans’ rights, historic preservation, support of the arts and the Cowboy Way. I serve on a local scholarship granting committee because we all need to help those who helped our children.
But I also spend a lot of time on social media, watching and sometimes participating in discussions about our quirky community. There are several people – some, but not all of them gadflies – who take the time to research and express their opinions to elected officials in the hope that things will change for the better. Sometimes they are loud, sometimes they are subtle, but to their very core they are all passionate. And I think we’re lucky to have them, even though they sometimes drive us crazy.
It’s complacency that should really set us off.
It’s far too easy to stay in our comfort zones and hope that things will always go our way. We are damn lucky that some people are willing to step up to the podium to keep important issues at the forefront, to rouse the rabble and make sure politicians pay attention. The result may not always be the one we wanted, but they remind us that we are guaranteed a chance to speak up.
Kind of like those rights guaranteed by the people and events Francis Scott Key wrote about so many years ago. They’re well worth a daily reminder.