UNITED STATES (WJW) — Some Americans are calling for a new national anthem amid the nationwide trend of removing monuments, statues and other symbols that have ties to slavery.
Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” on September 14, 1814 when he saw the US flag flying over the fort at dawn’s early light, according to the Smithsonian Institute.
This poem later served as the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which became the official national anthem of the US in 1931.
However, citizens are now asking for a new national anthem because of Key’s ties to slavery.
The Smithsonian reports that Key was a slave owner and defended slave owners’ rights to own human property.
A change.org petition calling for the change of the anthem has recently resurfaced and is gaining new support amidst the current climate surrounding controversial statues and monuments. New signatures have been added to the petition this past week.
The petition moves to change the national anthem to “America the Beautiful.”
It alleges that not only did Key own slaves, but also that the song itself “contains racism, elitism and even sexism embedded in its third and fourth stanzas.”
Petition creators also argue the song is focused on victory and military strength and does not exemplify the American values of brotherhood, national unity and patriotism. They also cite references of inequality among men and women.
Those encouraging the change also argue that “America the Beautiful” is not only timeless but also “expresses and celebrates the highest of all ideals – i.e. brotherhood within our borders, deference to our natural resources. and indirectly alludes to the safeguarding and conservation of our air, water, and land. And in its later stanzas it also clarifies just laws, heroism and patriotism.”
Several Twitter users have responded to the call for change, some in opposition, others suggesting other patriotic songs that they believe could make for a good anthem.
The petition resurfaced just days after protesters in San Francisco toppled a statue of Key during demonstrations against racial injustice.
The statue was one of three that were overturned in Golden Gate Park on Monday, Fox News reports. The others included a statue of Junípero Serra, an 18th-century missionary who was declared a saint in the Catholic Church and former President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant led his Union army to victory against the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Protesters have torn down several statues of Confederates and other historical figures located across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, who died on Memorial Day in Minneapolis police custody.
“We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators,” Trump said.
The President also argued that “we should learn from the history,” stating, “if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again.”
The increased attention to the petition also comes after the US Soccer Board of Directors voted to repeal Policy 604-1, which required players to stand during the national anthem.
The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality, and the systematic oppression of Black people and people of color in America.
US soccer officials say “it has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the petition has resurfaced and was not created this week.
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