Hurray for the “O!” in “The Star Spangled Banner,” And The Man Who Put It There

Wild Bill Hagy, on the job

When the Washington Nationals hosted the Baltimore Orioles in an interleague baseball game, many Orioles fans attended to root for their team, the long-diminishes but suddenly (and, I fear, temporarily) resurgent O’s from Charm City. Nobody who has attended Orioles games in Camden Yards was surprised that the Orioles fans shouted out a loud “O!” as the National Anthem reached its climax, in the line, “Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave?” They have been doing this, joyfully and with full-throated enthusiasm, for over four decades.

Washington Post sportswriter Mike Wise to his keyboard to express his annoyance and indignation. Calling the O’s fans who engage in the traditional shout “cretins,” Wise wrote,

“…By claiming the lyrics, if only for a moment, you fundamentally undermine the idea that the song was written to unite instead of divide. A national anthem is a national anthem, not a convenient vehicle for one’s immense pride in his or her team.”

Allow me to retort!

Baloney. Continue reading