Growing up in an Air Force town and having joined the military later in life, I can say personally that I have heard the national anthem more times than I could possibly count. If I tried, it would probably be in the hundreds or thousands.

Heck, we even stood for it before the start of movies. The movie theater on the base my dad was stationed at used to play the national anthem before anything was shown on the screen. Before the previews, before the ads, anything…

Now, I have heard the song so many times sung verbally that I sat down trying to figure out how anyone could consider the song racist and the thought of someone really thinking that is causing my head to hurt…

It looks like kneeling during the national anthem just wasn’t enough. A high school in California has decided that the entire “Star Spangled Banner” has no place at pep rallies, and has essentially banned the anthem from those events after a student group labelled it “racially insensitive.”

To make matters worse, the reason behind the decision at California High School in San Ramon is so obscure that no students seemed to have a problem with it until it was pointed out by instigators looking for a controversy.

“A few weeks before the rally it was brought to our attention that the National Anthem’s third verse is outdated and racially insensitive,” declared Ariyana Kermanizadeh, the president of a student group at the school, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Have you ever sung the third verse to the national anthem at an event? The answer is probably “no,” but that didn’t stop the outraged students from using it as a reason to scrap the anthem entirely. That verse, if you’re unaware, goes like this: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/ From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave/ And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave.”

Considering that a previous line is about “that the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion” during the British attack on Fort McHenry, it seems clear to anybody who can read English that the “hireling and slave” line is not meant to be derogatory.

Francis Scott Key was lamenting the chaos of the battle, pointing out that nobody could escape the turmoil and the violence. Instead of learning about history, including America’s struggle against slavery, the school has apparently decided that anything that happened before 1865 should be swept under a rug.

“After learning about the third verse, the other ASB officers and I thought that this was completely unacceptable and must be removed from the rally,” the student body president continued. Yes, they’re removing the entire national anthem because of an arcane line that nobody even sings.

“The students made their decision after learning that the third verse is seen as offensive to some groups,” stated Elizabeth Graswich, the director of communications for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. “The ASB is committed to creating a school culture that is welcoming to all students.”

Here’s a question: Who exactly is in charge at this school? Why did one student group get to decide that the national anthem is going to be tossed out?

The school did not clarify what happens if other students are offended by not having the national anthem played, or how removing the official anthem of the United States was a “welcoming culture” for a school located in America.

Here is the real problem with this decision: It isn’t actually about keeping people from being offended, and never was. If you ask 50 random high school students to recite the third line of the anthem, not a single one of them would be able to do it.

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