Saturday, November 26, 2011

National Anthem in Espanol in Ukiah. Updated 11/26

I have to admit, when I heard Nuestro Himno play on the loudspeaker on Friday at Ukiah High School, I grinned.  The smile on my face was because I knew the Spanish rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was going to rangle teachers and students at the high school.  Sure enough, a couple of teachers were not amused and a few students went storming to the admin building to express their displeasure at the song being sung in Spanish.  My students?  Well my students class that listened to the rendition were laughing because the copy of the song sucked.  I mean, seriously, the song sounded like it came off of a transistor radio broadcasting A.M. radio in the Seventies. 
Apparently it caught the attention of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, because by lunch it was common knowledge that the Democrat had called the school district wondering why groups of students were so against the National Anthem in Spanish.  Sure enough, the Press Demo has an article out explaining that the issue wasn’t that big of a deal.  A few people were offended, some complained, and the whole thing was highly exaggerated.  Thank God for Thanksgiving Break. 
Since it is nearly impossible to literally translate anything in a foreign language from its original context, much less Francis Scott Key’s description of the bombing of Fort McHenry, I figured I’d show you the literal translation of the Spanish version.
“It's sunrise. Do you see by the light of the dawn
What we proudly hailed last nightfall?
Its stars, its stripes
yesterday streamed
above fierce combat
a symbol of victory
the glory of battle, the march toward liberty.
Throughout the night, they proclaimed: "We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?
Verse 2
Its stars, its stripes,
Liberty, we are the same.
We are brothers in our anthem.
In fierce combat, a symbol of victory
the glory of battle,
(My people fight on)
the march toward liberty.
(The time has come to break the chains.)
Throughout the night they proclaimed: "We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?
Sure, it’s not word-for-word.  But if we have people singing the praises of the United States through its national anthem, even if it slightly off, isn’t that a good thing?  Doesn’t it make sense that out of all the days that Spanish speaking students stand for the National Anthem in English, that one day we introduce it in a different language?  What’s the problem with respecting the United States in any language? 
Again I’ll have to admit that the song was too long (it was getting close to Jimmy time) and that the quality totally lacking.  But you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that it wouldn’t be a good thing that the Star Spangled Banner be spoken in every language around the planet.  Defending the Stars and Strips, in any language, is pretty damn cool. 

Updated 11/26

More interesting reports of anthem and pledge cases that should anger citizens a hell of a lot more than singing our National Anthem in Spanish.  Huffington Post has two cases that are outragous.  One involves a teacher in Texas requiring students to recite the Mexican National Anthem, and another where an idiotic federal judge in San Francisco said that a principal in Morgan Hill, California was correct in telling students to remove their American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo.  Both of those issues have far more serious repercussions.  Oh, and props to the state of Michigan for a logical law requiring pledges.  The law requires that a U.S. flag be in every classroom and that the pledge be repeated every day.  But it also states that students are not compelled to participate, as reinforced by the United States Supreme Court.  Look at that; true values of patriotism and individual liberty on clear display!      
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