Why do people stand for God Bless America? It's a pop song for crissakes! When the Philadelphia Flyers' fans of the 1970's adopted the Kate Smith version as an anthem of sorts, back when the Broad Street Bullies fought their way to the Stanley Cup, it was a perverse claiming of a schmaltzy chestnut as statement of identity. But since 9/11, when the Yankees had Ronan Tynan sing GBA, it has taken on an air of the holy. People were already standing for the 7th-inning stretch, why sit now? God Bless has become such a quasi-anthem that the New York Police once ejected a fan for going to the bathroom during its singing. That the scofflaw was a Red Sox fan may have more to do with it than the perception of insufficient patriotism.
I rail at this, but this Paul Revere horse has left the barn. There's no getting back to the idea that God Bless America is merely an Irving Berlin ditty, written for the Hit Parade. I tried explaining this at a recent Rotary meeting and was met with dagger stares. It's getting worse. Yesterday, Rotarians, haltingly at first, stood for the singing of America, the Beautiful. First, one, then two, then, guiltily, a few more, until the tide was irresistible. We all arose and I stewed. What can you do?
What's next? Should people stand when they hear Simon & Garfunkel's America? How about James Brown's Living in America? It has "America" in the title AND was featured in Rocky IV. What a red, white and blue juggernaut! And what about the songs from the group America? I won't stand up for A Horse with No Name, I assure you.
However, I could be convinced to rise for Sister Golden Hair.