Letters: The California NAACP is wrong. The Star Spangled Banner is special

Re “Remove ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as national anthem, California NAACP urges” (sacbee.com, Nov. 7): The NAACP wants the Star Spangled Banner removed as our National Anthem because the author was a slave owner and the third stanza of the poem that is the basis for the Anthem is “racist”. Francis Scott Key was a slave owner, therefore we should not honor his poem. Two-thirds of our founding fathers were slave owners. So I guess anything they wrote should be removed. So let’s get rid of the Constitution. The poem is a form of art and should be appreciated as art, not dismissed because of the personal beliefs of the author. Secondly, look at the song itself. The Star Spangled Banner is part of a poem about a battle that was significant in the American History, the War of 1812. The words describe a battle. With a fleet of warships in Baltimore Harbor, the British sent a downpour of shells and rockets on Fort McHenry for 25 hours in September 1814. Francis Scott Key was in Baltimore Harbor aboard a ship, guarded by the British who would not let him go, forced to watch the battle throughout the night. He watched “rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air” and still the American flag was visible over the “ramparts” of Fort McHenry, at great peril to those defending it. With the dawn, he was amazed to see the American Flag, not the Union Jack, flying, “oer the land of the free and the home of the brave.” That is the poem and the part that has become the National Anthem, a celebration of a hard-fought victory in the War of 1812. Probably preventing us from singing “God Save the Queen” before our athletic events. The third stanza of the original poem which refers to former slaves who were working for the British, is not part of the anthem, so whether or not it is “racist” is irrelevant to the National Anthem. The Star Spangled Banner symbolizes the bravery and resolve of the men who fought to keep America free and is the best choice for our anthem. We need to preserve our history, not destroy it.

Patti Gantenbein, Carmichael