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My Country Tissue Free...
How Does That Song Go Again...?
If you went to grade school in the USA, then you know we had to recite the pledge of allegiance and sing a patriotic song every morning. Often that song was My Country 'Tis of Thee. And, unless your parents taught you the correct lyrics at home, you didn't learn them until you were in the 4th grade.
Despite the best efforts of your 1st through 3rd grade teachers to the contrary, you always sang a modified version of the song. There you are, you and your classmates, all standing at attention giving due diligence to the the task at hand. "Place your right hand over your heart and begin', says your teacher..."I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America..." that part always came out right. However, the rest of it.... well, it could be anything.
Moving right along... after we misquoted the pledge, we would move on to butcher the song. It always began with great vim and vigor.
"My country tissue free, sweet lan' of lemon tree, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers hide, land of the pilgrims slide,
From ev-ve-ver-y mountainside, let freedom bring"
(The video plays all of the stanzas of the song if you want to know what the correct lyrics are...)
By the time you are in the 4th grade you have studied a portion of the Constitution as well as learned the correct words to not only this patriotic song, but to several others. Naturally, as soon as you learned the correct words you sang them and only chuckle under your breathe at the memory of the "old" lyrics. As you reminisce, it occurs to you that you must have been cute as a button singing those wrong words.
When you are little and enthusiastic, like 2nd graders, misquoting song lyrics is cute and quite frankly, to be expected. But, what is the excuse if you are 35? Or when you have been asked to sing at a professional ball game or other public event.
You would think that you would brush up on the lyrics of whatever song you were asked to sing so you would at least look like you cared...right???
How many times have we had the glory of Baseball's opening day be tainted by somebody "messing up", (ooops, my bad.. I should say someone incorrectly singing), the patriotic song? They don't know the right words, (they missed 4th grade, ), they sing off-key, or they try to add a new twist to it that flops.
There Should be a Penalty
There should be a penalty for every citizen of the USA who does not know the Pledge of Allegiance, The Star Spangled Banner, America, (My Country 'Tis of Thee), or Oh Beautiful. Testing on this should be a part of the High School Exit exam. You don't have to sing on key; in fact, you don't have to sing at all. You just need to recite the words. This way, if you are tone deaf, you won't be embarrassed.
Does anybody agree with me? If you have to obey traffic laws, why not make this a law also. Can't you see it... you are stopped by the police and they say, "License, proof of insurance and a recitation of the National Anthem, please." This would truly cut out the need for any other type of sobriety test.
If you don't get it right, you get a ticket... maybe just a $5 ticket, but, a ticket none the less. It would take years before everyone would be able to say the Anthem without a mistake.... (Hey, this has the potential of lowering taxes! - Maybe I should run for office...).
Moving Right Along...
My sister, rest her soul, was infamous in the neighborhood as someone who only knew the first syllable of the first word of a song lyric, two or maybe three words mid-song, and the last syllable of the last word. Can you imagine? She would substitute sounds and make up words as she went along.
Lucy in the sky with diamonds was more like, "Lou-ee sath in the oh sk whoo it de imonds"
And, it wasn't just one or two songs, it was every song. No matter what genre, no matter tempo, no matter what language. [We went to Catholic School and at that time we were singing songs in Latin...] It made no difference to my sister. When the music came on her singing began. Sometimes she would start singing whether the music came on or not.
She never flinched when we frowned. The puzzled looks of frustration went unnoticed. And, when one could stand it no longer, gave into their emotions and shouted her name.... she would look, smile, close her eyes and finish her version of the song.
Suffice it to say....
My sister was a fine example of a person who followed the joy in her heart. It bubbled up and spilled out over all of us. You could tell her the right words, you could write them down, she would smile and nod. You would just know the next time she would sing the right words....it never happened. It was her way or the highway.
So, along with anxious 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders, unpracticed professionals and my sister, we just have to grin and bear it.