U.S. national anthem is being nearly ignored

Published 10:05 am Friday, May 21, 2010

Here’s an interesting scenario based on a motorist traveling on an area roadway that doesn’t have too much traffic. He has the car’s radio on is going through the AM dial trying to find something worthwhile for listening.

So far, all he’s hearing are too many commercial messages, several long-winded commentators (talk show hosts), and some forgettable music worth another quick turn of the dial to another station. Then, all of a sudden, he hears a melody just before noon that really revives his deepest patriotic feelings. It’s our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner.”

What this motorist happened to hear was a musical feature at 860 on the dial. That happens to be the frequency in this region for Radio Station KNUJ in New Ulm. KNUJ has a special short musical program named “A Patriotic Moment” broadcast at 8:23 a.m. on Mondays, 11:55 a.m. on Wednesdays and 4:25 p.m. on Fridays. And the only musical portion during this short broadcast segment is a band playing the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Email newsletter signup

Sadly, the nation’s radio and television stations don’t seem to include this patriotic melody as a part of their daily broadcasting and telecasting schedules any more.

Years ago many of the radio stations had much shorter broadcasting times. Some of the stations in that era operated from sunup to sundown. Other stations would go on the air at 5 or 6 a.m. and broadcast until midnight. Fora those stations the tradition was to have the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” as the very first and very last part of their daily broadcasting. All this patriotic action seems to have faded away with the present 24/7 broadcast schedules.

When the television stations started operations after World War II, their hours of black and white programming were rather limited. If my memory is correct, these stations started their limited telecasting schedules with test patterns and concluded the day, usually about midnight, with the “Star Spangled Banner.” And for this last part those nations had the music of one of the armed forces bands, plus scenes of our national flag dominating the screens. All this patriotism on the channels, cable and otherwise, has also faded away with the 24/7 schedules.

This mentioning of television reminds me of an old scene in a “Happy Days” program. Tom Bosley (the father) and Ron Howard (the son) were watching a late night program on their living room television and dozed off. The program concluded and the station switched to the playing of the national anthem to conclude their telecasting day. All of a sudden the father and son wake up and struggle to stand up as the “Star Spangled Banner” is being played.

In reality, those two and any other folks hearing this melody in their homes wouldn’t have to stand up when the national anthem is being played. Out in public at a sports event or other occasion standing up for the national anthem is correct.

Our national anthem is still being used to start off many sports events. Maybe it’s the school or college band playing, a vocalist, or a recording, but this inspiring patriotic tune still gets the audience’s attention.

Our national anthem is also used for other public occasions. One local event I can verify comes when the Bayside Ski Club uses this patriotic moment to start off most of their summer programs on Edgewater Bay. And this is worth a special salute.

Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.