As the medals start coming in, I’ve been trying to pay attention to the anthems as the Olympians take the podium. After the Italian team beat my Americans in men’s archery, I realized this weekend that I had never really heard (or maybe just never paid attention to) the Italian anthem before. So thanks to YouTube, I found a version with both Italian and English subtitles.
As I read the words of “Il Canto degli Italiani”, I realized a commonality between many of the European and American anthems. In our American “Star Spangled Banner” we sing of our flag still standing as we defeated the Brits and achieved freedom. In the U.K. “God Save the Queen” describes crushing the Scots. For the French in “La Marseillaise”, they call their citizens to bear arms and stand up against tyrants. And for the Italians, they claim victory as their personal slave and promise to die for Rome and country. It seems that our anthem writers were all pretty obsessed with our war-time wins and liked to sing our praises.
Reading through the national songs made me wonder, if we were to re-write our national anthem in 2012, how would it be different? Although I can’t speak for every country, I feel pretty confident to say that the Americans would definitely change it up. We would sing of the American dream, equality for all, and patriotic pride. In fact, if it were up for a vote, we may just adopt “I’m Proud to be an American” and call it a day.
But yet, as Missy Franklin took the podium the other day and they played the “Star Spangled Banner” over the aquatic center, my last thought was of changing the anthem, but rather pure pride in my fellow countrywoman. And from the looks of things, “God Save the Queen”, “La Marseillaise”, and “Il Canto degli Italiani” are invoking the same feelings. I suppose its best not to fix what’s broke but I’m curious to hear other’s opinion.