Why national anthem should command respect

To the editor:

Disrespect for our national anthem probably results from a lack of understanding about the role of a national anthem. Perhaps this will help.

My father spent World War II as a POW of the Japanese, and they kept him busy building the railroad made famous by the movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Fifty years later, he wrote a memoir of the POW experience on the day when the war was suddenly over. One paragraph is the best explanation I know of the meaning of a national anthem.

"Gradually our minds thawed with a sense of exhilaration. A common instinct prompted us. We knew what to do. Everyone assembled in the open space at the end of the huts, facing the little town of Kamburi across an open airfield. Then, led by an accordion which had shared our travels, we sang our national anthems. First 'God Save the King' rose from a thousand thankful hearts, and the words 'send him victorious' particularly rolled in massive waves into the tropical night. After that the handful of Americans bravely rendered 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' We were sorry that so few of us knew the words well enough to help them out. Finally the Dutch national anthem, 'Wilhelmus van Nassau' closed the proceedings."

Ed Dartford, Stockbridge



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