What the National Anthem Means

In the opening pages of Who Are We?, Samuel Huntington describes a scene indicative of the important place the national anthem plays in our national identity and of the dire situation of the country at present regarding respect for that anthem. The U.S. men’s soccer team in 1998 reached the Gold Cup final match to face Mexico before a partisan anti-American crowd who threw objects at American players and loudly booed the "Star-Spangled Banner." The game was, amazingly, played not in Mexico, but in Los Angeles, and some significant portion of those booing were American citizens who so weakly identified with their country that such scorn for its national symbols came effortlessly to them. Huntington recalls the episode as one key illustration of the erosion of respect and veneration for American national symbolic culture. The depressing spectacle of NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem is further evidence of this cultural decay, and...(Read Full Article)