Everyone noticed, but only some reacted.

By Gus Bode

Bruce Weber and the players remained still. The color guard, which had just reached halfcourt, did not flinch.

But half the crowd, including those of us on press row, jerked their heads toward the Dawg Pound as the national anthem was about to be played when some imbecile shouted, “Milwaukee sucks [rooster].” (Use your imagination.)

My fellow Daily Egyptian sportswriter and I exchanged smirks, took off our hats and listened to the song. I did not think anything of it and honestly did not care. To me, it was just a song, and an annoying one at that.


I had heard it a million times and would hear it a million more times before dying in a llama hunt at age 37.

I was sick to death of the Star-Spangled Banner, and I was going to write a column decrying what I thought was the idiotic practice of singing the same annoying song at the beginning of every sporting event

And the Charlottean who had disrespected the anthem would be the hero of the story.

But as the song progressed, my mind took one of its frequent sabbaticals from reality, and I became haunted by the ghost of Star-Spangled Banners past.

“Brenner, Brenner,” it said. “Why do you no longer care?”

I thought it was incredible poetry for an entity that did not exist, so I listened.

“You have lost the star spangled spirit,” he continued.


Without saying another word, the spirit tapped his ruby microphone three times and we were in the middle of the War of 1812.

We stood beside Francis Scott Key as he desperately wrote the first verse to his famous poem. It was incredible. The rockets actually had a red glare, the bombs were bursting in the air and the flag was there as well. It was a beautiful sight.

He whisked us to World War II and showed the anthem playing after the Marines raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

Back in the modern era, he showed renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner from Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl to Roseanne Barr at a Boston Red Sox game to every song Wayne Mesmer ever sang at Wrigley Field.

All were sung at a time I appreciated the patriotism the song can instill in an American – before I had lost the star-spangled spirit.

Suddenly, I was back in reality. But as quickly as I had come to, I faded away again.

I awoke in the Alamo and immediately saw the ghost of Star-Spangled Banners present. He looked a lot like John Wayne and was just as authoritative.

“Now listen here Pilgrim,” the spirit said. “While you’re hallucinating about me, there are plenty of people who appreciate the magnificence of the song you have grown to hate.”

He showed a veteran in section Q with tears in his eyes. He showed a small child in the same vicinity holding a small American flag.

The Duke pointed out a national guardsman who was one of my co-workers at the Daily Egyptian. This would be his last time hearing the song in his homeland for a long time. He would be going to Iraq the next day.

“You get the point?” the scruffy spirit said.

“Yes, I replied. These people have a reason to care, but I do not.”

The spirit took out a ruby revolver, fired it in the air three times, and I found myself on press row at the Arena once again.

And the rockets red glare, the bombs…

That was the last note to pass my ears before the ghost of Star-Spangled Banners future, who was wearing a Canadian flag around his body, showed up.

“I am the ghost of national anthems future, eh,” he said with a friendly smile.

Before me stood Carbondale in the year 2053. It was covered in snow, was clean as a Bill Cosby joke and displayed several signs advertising the new universal health care system. Everyone was polite, cheerful and considerate of others.

“Spirit, what has happened?” I asked.

“You ran for president in 2040 on the platform of eliminating the Star-Spangled Banner,” he replied. “By that time, MTV was the nations top network. Carson Daly and company endorsed you after a trip to Amsterdam. You won and eliminated the national anthem at sporting events.

“But Canada did not, so Americans began to sing “O, Canada” whenever Canadian teams came to their cities. Eventually, Americans became Canadians.”

I felt 1,000 needles hit my back at once. I knew something had to change,

“Spirit, spirit,” I screamed. “Say it isn’t so. I will change! I promise. I will appreciate and cherish the national anthem.

“Just don’t let this great nation turn into Canada!”

The spirit took out three ruby hockey pucks and a stick. He hit all three of them into the air, and I slowly began to hear the sound of a woman’s voice,

Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…

It was not too late! I was in America again! I turned to my fellow basketball reporter and said, “What day is it?”

“It’s Saturday you idiot,” he replied.

“It’s Saturday!” I thought to myself. “I haven’t missed it. The spirits have done it all in seven verses!”

My eyes shifted to the flag and I listened to the rest of the song beaming with pride.

O’r the land of the free, and the home of the brave

Those words had never sounded so beautiful.

The national anthem does mean something, I thought to myself.

I silently apologized for thinking otherwise, and I hoped the man who made the rooster comment was thinking the same.

Michael is a junior in journalism. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.