The National Anthem, Lincoln, the Slave Owner—and even Better, Dixie

key-memorial

The Star Spangled Banner, imagery created by Francis Scott Key in his poem written while aboard a British ship (he had been working as an American agent for prisoner exchange and was forced to remain aboard until after the assault on Fort McHenry) is the name for the well-known poem written by Key and later put to borrowed music. It became so popular that by 1916 Woodrow Wilson (by executive order) declared it the National Anthem. Later Congress, by resolution declared it again the National Anthem. Now neither of these actions have any Constitutional standing apart from some national being of the former republic. It was no accident that the seceding Southern states called themselves a confederacy (C.S.A.)

In light of the current brouhaha over football players (those mental giants of society) not standing when it is played, I remarked to a friend recently with whom I had served in the Marine Corps that I had never in my life stood for The national Anthem, nor saluted it in the service. Immediately he contradicted me and said he had not only seen me salute it but had been to ballgames where I stood when it was played. In my clever good- old- boy Southern way (he is Southern too—just didn’t have his thinking cap on) I replied “Au Contraire oh blind and foolish one. What you saw was my standing or saluting The Star Spangle Banner—NOT The National Anthem.”

I fully realize that the great number of “citizens” (not the people anymore) subscribe to the belief that we are endowed by a national government and as such we have certain paraphernalia that we must acknowledge as splendid and endowed by governmental-spiritual diktat: The National Anthem, the national cathedral, the national endowment for this or that…and the well-known, by injunction, but lesser known by history, the Pledge of Allegiance; though long without the national moniker I’m certain it won’t be long before some idiot in Congress presents a proposed Congressional resolution to name it the National Pledge of Allegiance. More on this little misfit later.

Great praises are hailed by media broadcasters for those players who do stand during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, without ever considering the ambush they have laid for themselves. After all Francis Scott Key was a Southerner and by national extension a racial bigot and Negro (now blacks) hater because he was a slave owner. Not to be outdone, his grandson Francis Key Howard had the temerity to criticize Lincoln and subsequently he (Howard) was promptly held without Habeas Corpus, which was the very thing he had been critical of Lincoln for. Therefore, if the national government has embraced and encompassed Francis Scott Key it must have embraced bigotry.

Francis Scott Key was a member of The American Colonization Society, an organization that promoted the emigration of free blacks to Africa (in order to rid American society of them due to several concerns). If Lincoln was not a member, he strongly supported the American Colonization Society from around 1840 until 1863 when it got a bit awkward for him, as he had begun using blacks as cannon fodder in the war against the bigots. Curiously while the contemporary political powers seem to frame themselves, at least regarding Lincoln, around The Three Wise Monkeys, certainly they cannot hide from Francis Scott Key’s bigotry. So when will some brave politician (oxymoron?) determine that the monument to Key in Baltimore need be removed? After all, the same sculptor, Antonin Mercie’, who created it, created the statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond.

Whether or not this fractiousness among football players continues as epidemic or sputters like a bad cold, I wish, at the least, Southern football players could learn who is really on their side. It ain’t the university elites.

When I was a boy in grade school in Mississippi we always stood for the Star Spangle banner and we ALWAYS stood when Dixie was played (which was often). The other day while being checked out at the counter of a store I received a call on my cell phone which has the ring tone of Dixie (yes you can download it). The Vietnamese lady who was checking me out said, “Oh what is that music?” I told her and she replied, “Oh that is wonderful song. I like it.” I told her that if she remained in Texas long enough maybe she would, as I do, come to love it. I hope someone comes along some day and tells her The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1900 by a defrocked socialist minister who was trying to sell flags. Maybe by then those football players will stand for the Star Spangled Banner. And the ones down South will stand once again for Dixie.

About Paul H. Yarbrough

I was born and reared in Mississippi, lived in both Louisiana and Texas (past 40 years). My wonderful wife of 43 years who recently passed away was from Louisiana. I have spent most of my business career in the oil business. I took up writing as a hobby 7 or 8 years ago and love to write about the South. I have just finished a third novel. I also believe in the South and its true beliefs. More from Paul H. Yarbrough

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