On the homepage today, I have the second and final part of my Great Lakes Journal — notes on a cruise that some of us magazine types took last week. I mention the welcome we received in Saugatuck, Mich. Locals waved a big ol’ flag (a grand ol’ flag, I should say). Patriotic songs came forth from loudspeakers. One of those songs was “God Bless the U.S.A.,” Lee Greenwood’s hit from 1984.
A few issues ago, NR had a little editorial concerning this song. We really did. Do you remember a story out of Coney Island — P.S. 90? The school’s principal banned “God Bless the U.S.A.” Kindergartners were all set to sing it at their graduation. (I know, I know: a kindergarten graduation . . .) But this principal swooped in during a rehearsal and put the kibosh on the song. She said it would “offend other cultures.” She substituted another song: Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” The lyrics go, “Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.”
This was a depressing affair, one that says something rotten about America today. But there was a silver lining: According to the New York Post’s reporting, immigrant parents of the schoolchildren were strongly in favor of the song. We’re talking about people from Pakistan, Mexico, Ecuador, and elsewhere. If Americans such as these prevail over Scrooge-like, uncomprehending principals — we’ll be okay.
One more thing: “God Bless the U.S.A.” is almost 30 years old. It seems to have entered the permanent repertoire of patriotic songs. Lee Greenwood has contributed something that has stuck in our culture. Holy Moses, how many of us will do that?