Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

January 27, 2010

Playing anthem a worthwhile gesture for GC

Last week, the President’s Council of Goshen College concluded that the time is right for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which has been the national anthem of the United States for nearly 80 years, to be played before select sporting events on campus. The college has maintained a long-standing practice of not playing the anthem based on the school’s pacifist beliefs and affiliation with the Mennonite Church.

The song, written by Francis Scott Key and inspired by a battle in 1814, gained popularity throughout the 1800s. With the United States firmly entrenched in World War I, President Woodrow Wilson ordered in 1916 that the song be played at all military and other appropriate events. The song was even played at the beginning of the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.



In 1931, nearly 120 years after it was written, President Herbert Hoover officially declared “The Star-Spangled Banner” the country’s national anthem. During World War II in the 1940s, Major League Baseball owners began having the song played before each game. That practice has since spread to all sports at all levels.

Goshen College, however, never undertook that practice based on its stated religious values and pacifist beliefs. This newspaper has often defended Goshen College’s stance based on this country’s principles outlined in the United States Constitution. That document protects our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion. It does not mandate that the national anthem be played before sporting events.

Still, Goshen College has been vulnerable to considerable criticism regarding its unique stance; criticism we believe is justified under the same Constitutional protections afforded to all U.S. citizens. Freedom of speech is indeed a two-way street.



Officials at Goshen College have been considering a change in practice for the past couple years, even before national syndicated radio talk show host Mike Gallagher called for the college to play the anthem back in November 2008. College officials were correct not to cave to Gallagher’s demand and instead further examine the true internal scope of the issue.

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Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson is asking residents to make an effort to clean up their yards this spring. The city’s Dial-A-Truck program is available to haul trash away. Do you think there are more unsightly properties in Goshen this year than five years ago?

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