Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday America

The following rendition of the American National Anthem was given on Feb 9th, at the Texas Tech University Basketball game this year. It is sung by five young girls (ages 6 to 8). Knowing how challenging this song is to sing, this is a must see and a must listen. It is interesting to notice that the entire arena is silent during the performance.
I cannot offer you anything other than music. All the Founding Fathers are long since dead. America's true patriots are fast turning into anachronisms or corpses. Its soldiers are either in despair over their unhealed emotional and mental injuries or so savagely brutal as to make the Eisatzgruppen and EinsatzKommandos of the SS look tame. That is saying a great deal.
Ah! Yes. Only Hope is left. Philosophers and savants tell us Hope is always the last to die. Perhaps that is why this National Anthem sung by future Mothers of their Country is so moving. In spite of everything: good,b ad and ugly let us all say in a loud chorus"God Save America. God Bless America."
I cannot resist saying this as well. Americans! Get off your backsides! 


  1. Isabel, did you know that the melody of the Star Spangled Banner was originally an English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven”? Lyrics and background info:

    And a darkly funny song by the Canadian group “Arrogant Worms”, about the Canadian invasion of Washington in 1814 (payback for America’s invasion and burning of Toronto), around the time when F Scott Key wrote the anthem.
    Warning, this is not for the overly-sensitive about America’s founding myths:

    But in a more respectful vein, you might appreciate these two Civil War songs performed by a relative unknown, Charlie Zahm. His reminder that most of the soldiers in the field preferred to sing about home instead of about war, is good medicine for today’s hyper-militaristic (yet un-warriorlike) American populace:

    But you’re right that there’s always hope, and as Adam Smith said after hearing the news of Britain’s “ruin” after the surrender at Yorktown, “there is a lot of ruin in a nation.” And as continuity is as strong as change, SOMEthing of America’s greatness and decency will always survive and reincarnate in unexpected ways. Just like has happened to the best of Rome, long after its apparent end.

    Although history never repeats itself, it does rhyme (Mark Twain said that), and today’s America seems, to me, to resemble the Rome of circa 250 AD. That was within the lifetime of those who were born a generation or two after Rome’s apogee, the time of Marcus Aurelius. Having been born in 1963, 18 years after America’s apogee year of 1945, I belong to a similar generation as that of Marcus Sempronius Nicocrates, whose tombstone in the British Museum is my favourite Roman relic of all. He died circa 300, and his marble tombstone features relief sculptures of two dramatic masks on either side, and a muse overlooking a songwriter, and the epitaph says:

    “M Sempronius Nicocrates. A poet and a lyre player, I played with a festival troupe. Weary from many journeys, I returned home and became, friends, a procurer of beautiful women. (Today that would be a slightly more salacious equivalent of a model’s agent.) Fate came from Heaven, taking my soul. And now the Muses keep charge of my body.”

    Now, although my morals are more puritanical that Marcus’, it seems that he was a truly civilized man. And I always found his tombstone especially moving, because I imagined him as an old man in 300 AD, being one of the last of his kind, one of the last Romans who remembered what real civilization was like. And in his time, at his end, he probably thought that his civilization and everything he treasured, was about to vanish forever. So whenever I visited his tombstone, I would always think, “Hey, Marcus, 1,700 years later I’m here to tell you that you, and Rome, are remembered, and all that was best in your civilization still lives on.”

    So on that note, although I’ve immigrated to Australia and thus, as a matter of Honour, must pledge my first loyalty to this country, I will teach my posterity (and teach them to teach theirs) never to forget what was best in their American heritage. And if I had to summarise “what was best in America” in one phrase, I would choose some words by F Scott Fitzgerald: He said America was the land of “willingness of the heart.”

    He was, by the way, a remote nephew of, and named after, Francis Scott Key.

    “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” Fitzgerald wrote at the end of “Gatsby.” But being borne back into the past will be America’s salvation in the long run.

  2. PS, I had ancestors and relatives on BOTH sides of the American Civil War, and so I love this performance by Elvis, and I share it with you, Isabel, and your blog's audience, for the Fourth of July:

  3. PPS, one more thing. When I left China after five years in China, I sent a massive-email to all of my friends in China, with THIS song (appended below) and a few evangelistic words from me, asking all of my (hundreds) of Chinese friends please to CONSIDER converting to Christianity.
    (Never mind the sect.)

    And I sent THIS VERY AMERICAN Christian gospel song/music-video, to hundreds of my Chinese friends, and therefore I am certain that tens, or hundreds of thousands (or more) Chinese have received it through me and my Chinese friends.

    And, Isabel, as YOU know that many people in China's central government WANT and HOPE to convert
    China to Christianity, so you, Isabel, will enjoy this!

    Here is the song which I sent to many of my Chinese friends, for them to send to their friends, exponentially:


Isabel Van Fechtmann

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