It is the end of the school year and things around here are pretty busy.
Graduation is only three days away and I am busy wrapping up the year (and high school careers) with seniors that I have seen nearly every day (save summer, of course) for two years. This time of year is hard, but I’ll endure. Then there are all the end of year things to be done and paperwork to fill out and classroom to clean and plans to be made for lesson planning over the summer. The list never ends.
So, in review, I don’t have much time to put something new out. BUT, there are some posts in the archive that might be worth your reading since you may not have been around when they were written. Take a look at these earlier post in my blogging life:
How can one not love this time of year? This time of the year brings forth all sorts of newness and spawns the eternal hope of renewal for so many things. The eternal hope of Spring comes every year, but rarely lasts longer than a few months. The joy of this season for me is almost uncontainable and I look forward to it with immense anticipation. At times, hope swells beyond control and occasionally bubbles to the surface on my face or even in the sparkle of my eyes. This Spring, nothing has changed. I eagerly await that which I have yearned for since it last left.
For some, Spring means the chance to get out of doors. Spring brings forth the desire to shed the confines of the abode and venture to new places, seeing new sites along the way. The chance to attain mountain highs or the valley’s depths inspire many to don quickly packed clothing and devour hastily prepared snacks as they clamor towards a space of solitude amongst God’s great creation. I, too, long for these spaces and, in the past, have heeded their call. I have been fortunate enough to gander upon hidden wonders and soak up rays of sunshine as I traverse among the stately pines on the Northwest. Again, these spaces are calling to me, but my eternal hope of Spring does not lie there.
For others, the eternal hope of Spring brings forth new growth. As the sun warms the Earth and the falling rains soak the land, new life emerges from what appears to be death’s grip. Naked trees begin to clothe themselves in green buds, seeking a rebirth of sorts. Soon, bare soil comes to life with carpets of green and the grass coats vast valleys with its protective blanket. Flowers begin their delicate lives from nothingness, it seems. Suddenly they make their appearances everywhere, shining forth the joy they bring to so many. Yes, this time of year brings new life and hope. Nature reminds us that all is not lost and that we can start anew once more. Again, I find joy in this part of Spring’s emergence. I am awed at the struggle in which many partake to coax their yard’s landscape to be revitalized. Can they make the lawn lavishly lush again? Can they control the warrior weeds? Will the flowers flounder or flourish? Yet, while these struggles are calling, my eternal hope of Spring does not lie here.
For still others, Spring brings new and budding romance. The hope of emerging nature and silent solitude is overrun with fluttering hearts and heals over heads. Much like the reminders of that which comes with this Spring, we are reminded that companionship is what all humans clamor for. Shared experiences are better than those of loneliness. The romance of the season lurks under the surface, waiting to be released. For those lucky enough to find it, smiles and laughter are intertwined with moments of tenderness such as holding hands, hugs, and kisses. Sun provides the warmth for the earth, but romance supplies warmth for the heart. As I have experienced these times in the past, I treasured them for I knew they may only be fleeting moments; however, my eternal hope of Spring does not lie there either.
My eternal hope of Spring lies, like so many other sports fans, with the “Boys of Summer.” My eternal hope comes with the reporting of pitchers and catchers to warmer climes such as Florida and Arizona. My eternal hope springs forth as the snap of the glove and the knock of the bat are heard once again. My eternal hope rises to the surface as anticipation of a new season, a new year, a new chance comes. For me, Spring is the re-emergence of the greatest sport known to man. No games have been played and everyone has an equal chance at immortality. The off-season has come to a close and soon dusty diamonds all over the world will once again ring with the laughter of children learning the game. Fields of dreams will come alive, daring men to dance upon them. Fans will gather in homes, in stands, in stadiums to witness delightful deeds of the diamond or witness foolish field follies. We will yell at men in blue and at televisions as though it will make a difference, believing in “our” team once again. The eternal hope of Spring gives me and all other fans the chance to dream once more that our team will stand alone in October. Champions!
The real eternal hope of Spring is . . . baseball.
I hope I don’t come off sounding too unpatriotic for this, but I hate “God Bless America” at the ballpark, or any other sporting event for that matter. It doesn’t belong there any longer, and it most definitely doesn’t deserve the same respect. It had its place and time, but that time has gone and it is now time to send it to the showers. I am patriotic. I love my country. I love the flag. Perhaps that is why I can’t stand this seventh inning disrespect.
My last visit to the ballpark this summer on a Sunday afternoon in Seattle found me rising for the traditional singing of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I love this part of the game. I love this part of tradition and I believe that all sporting contests should start this way. And, why not play it before a baseball game? After all, baseball may have started the tradition in the first place, though not at the beginning of the game but during the seventh inning stretch. According to an article I found on ESPN.com, “The Song Remains the Same,” Game 1 of the World Series between the Cubs and the Red Sox in 1918 would establish its place in the sport. Eventually it would be moved from the seventh to the pre-game festivities, as an opening of the contest. I think we can all agree that it belongs there. It belongs there because sporting contests are often referred to as “battles” so the connection to armed conflict isn’t too big a stretch, especially since the origins of the song are centered directly there.
I very much appreciate the significance of the national anthem. I teach American History, Contemporary Issues, and Civics so I know the story well. The song was written by Francis Scott Key to commemorate the battle at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. This part of the story is what makes the national anthem great – Key saw the American flag flying over the fort after an intense battle and knew that American forces had endured; that America would endure. These facts are set in history. It is also set in history that President Wilson recognized the song for official use in 1916 and it was adopted as the national anthem in 1931 by a congressional resolution and signed into law by President Hoover.
Typical protocol for the national anthem is as follows: when the flag comes onto the field, all stand and face the flag, take off their hats (if they’re men), put their hand or hat over their heart (military personnel in or out of uniform salute), and stand respectfully (quiet and still) while the anthem is played. One part that people often forget is that they should continue this respect until the flag has left the field. This is the proper way to honor the symbol of our nation, one that men and women throughout our history have fought and died for – protecting our own liberties or those in need of some.
The seventh inning stretch gets my American blood boiling. The public address announcer says something to the effect of, “Please rise and remove your hats for the singing of ‘God Bless America’.” What happens? Nearly everyone stands and removes their hats for the singing. However, I DO NOT AND NEVER WILL. I don’t care if I get “the look” from others. I don’t care if people think I am being disrespectful. I sit in my seat, talk, eat, I don’t remove my hat and generally just go about my business as I normally would during the seventh inning stretch. I am not trying to be obstinate or overly obtuse.
Wikipedia tells me “God Bless America” was inserted into our national pastime as a display of solidarity against the tragedy of 9/11. The Padres, in a show of sensitivity to our collective beat down, first thought about removing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” baseball’s anthem, and inserting the familiar tune. But that tradition would have been missed so, instead, they inserted it just before the anthem of frivolity. All of baseball was soon mandated to follow suit. I understand the reason behind this action. I even participated in it for a while. Although I understood and I participated in it, the more I thought about it the less comfortable I was with it. These days, apparently, it is optional and left to individual teams to decide how or if they want to continue its use.
So why do I have such a problem with it? Well, it is NOT the national anthem!! It doesn’t deserve the same respect! Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful song, but to give it undue significance is disrespectful to the national anthem. It has been artificially elevated to a lofty position and, as a result, it lessens the value of the national anthem. Nothing else should ever be raised to that level. Nothing. The national anthem is enough to remind us of our past, our present, and our future. We don’t need “God Bless America” for that.
Next time you are at the ballpark, please, don’t participate in this now silly and inauthentic show of patriotism. Let the MLB and the teams know that it is time to eject “God Bless America” from baseball and return the game back to the way it was. Please keep and even elevate your acknowledgement and respect for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” After all, it is still there, gallantly streaming, over the land of the free and brave.