This past 4th of July I went with my brother to our local racetrack to watch the U.M.P. Dirt Summer Nationals (late model & modified stock car races). Because of the economy, gas prices and the holiday, I expected that there would be few fans in attendance and barely enough cars entered to put on a worthwhile show. Boy was I wrong! The grandstands were bursting with people, 3,000 plus, and there was a record 172 cars entered in 4 different classes of cars. After the hot laps & time trials were completed, the opening ceremonies began and that is when I came up with a possible plan for Obama.
Every car race that I have attended (and that has to be over a 1,000)
always begins with a "blessing" from a member of the clergy and then a performance of "The Star Spangled Banner". This night was different ... before the "blessing" ... "God Bless the U.S.A." was played.
I was amazed by the reaction of the crowd. Everyone took their hats off, stopped dead in their tracks, quit drinking their beers & started singing along. By the finish of the song, there were several people around me, male and female, that had visible tears in their eyes. The entire crowd seemed to be in a trance. A few minutes later, during "The Star Spangled Banner", some beer drinking came back, a few people made their way to the restrooms, chatter could be heard and no one was singing along. Even though our National Anthem was being played and the vast majority of people were "going through the motions" of what they were suppose to do, there was a visible sense of disinterest & restlessness. I think that some Americans no longer connect emotionally to our National Anthem. The words are repeated, but not necessarily understood and few people have a multi octave range that enables them to sing along confidently.
After thinking about all of this for awhile ... it occured to me ...
What would happen if Obama made "God Bless the U.S.A." a theme song for his campaign ... and even pledged to make it our new National Anthem if elected?
What would the "typical NASCAR fan" think about this?
Would it fly? Would they look past his skin color & political party?
Most assuredly not ... but maybe they would stop and listen to some of Obama's words instead of closing their ears instantly.
I "do not have religion" and I strongly believe in separation of church and state, but "God Bless the U.S.A." as our National Anthem would not offend me ... especially if I thought that it would get some voters to stop and listen to Obama and even vote for him.
Crazy & silly of me I suspect.
Personally, I have never been too attached to TSSB. I actually have pledged to not sing it until Bush is out of office. The only time that I got emotional singing it was when I traveled to Europe with a college choir in 1982. On the 4th of July we started our day in Czechoslovakia (behind the Iron Curtain) and after the czech guards with machine guns departed our bus, we rolled across the border into Austria ... someone started singing TSSB and everyone else chimed in ... we all had tears in our eyes before finishing. One of the few times that felt sincerely patriotic.
I do admit, that although I am generally not the patriotic, "wave the flag" type person, I do get a sense of warmth & a fuzzy feeling when I hear "God Bless the U.S.A.". Especially the time when I was visiting Las Vegas in October 2001, a few short weeks after 9/11. I was working a summer job in Alaska and had been separated from my family during 9/11. I was driving back to my winter home & family. I was suffering from 9/11 depression (It had hit me really hard) and decided to stop by Las Vegas on the way. It was almost a ghost town and I was able to get a great rate at the Paris Casino. Well, It happened that the Bellagio Casino (across the street) was using "God Bless the U.S.A." as part of their water, light & music street show. Everytime that I heard it (which was often) I got teary eyed & all the street traffic and even some car traffic stopped dead and were transfixed.
Please restrain from too many "I hate NASCAR" comments, if you can, I know that it is hard for some people... that is not what this diary is about.
I was born & raised a race car fan. Several close friends of my family, in my developmental stage, were race car drivers. My parents traveled with my siblings & I in tow all over the midwest from Friday night to Sunday night every summer weekend from racetrack to racetrack. It is in my blood ... it is not something that I chose ... but like family, I can't give it up just because "they" do bad things.
I am proud to be a NASCAR fan ... oh and by the way, I am proud to be GAY as well ... and I am especially proud to be one of the few GAY, NASCAR loving KOSSACKS in America.
"God Bless the U.S.A"
& Go Kyle Busch ... kick Gordon & Johnson's butts! I am tired of their domination of the sport.
Oh , I almost forgot ...