Yesterday, Arlene and I were shopping at our local food store in preparation for the Memorial Day weekend. The store was playing patriotic music over the intercom and the atmosphere was markedly Americana. Suddenly while standing in the aisle separating fruits from baked goods, the Star Spangled Banner began to play. I stopped and looked at Arlene while we both placed our hands over our hearts. We looked around the store for an American flag but one was not to be found. Arlene began laughing and pointed down at a cake painted like Old Glory. We stood there with hands over heart staring down at a frosting covered desert that would make Betsy Ross proud as others in the store looked on in amazement. As our National Anthem ended, we went about or shopping and returned home.
Sound funny? We laughed, but the odd thing is that no one else in the store stopped what they were doing to acknowledge the anthem and honor our flag. I was born in 1954 and was taught by my parents and teachers in school that when the flag is carried towards you, you stop what you are doing, rise and place your hand over your heart until it passes. When the National Anthem plays, you stop what you are doing, rise, face the flag and place your hand over your heart until it finishes (or until someone yells, “Play ball!”). Is this a forgotten tradition? If so, it is a shame.
Maybe playing the National Anthem at Jewel Foods is not the appropriate place to play The Star Spangled Banner … or is it? Arlene and I have a dear friend from Russia and to this day, she is amazed by the plentiful shelves and the multitude of choices we have in our grocery stores. How many choices of toilet paper do you need? If you grow up in an environment where you have to stand in line for 3 hours to get a roll of government issued toilet paper, what better place can there be to salute our flag and honor our country than an American Grocery store? Maybe I’m reaching.
BBut that is not my point. The shame is that others in Jewel did not stop their quest for charcoal, barbeque sauce, spare ribs and beverages to recognize that our National Anthem was even being played. I think the men and women who have served in the defense of our country deserve more from us on this and every Memorial Day. When you hear our National Anthem, stop, place your hand over your heart and remember them.
To the management of Jewel-Osco in Bourbonnais, IL, I would suggest that our National Anthem may be far too important than to casually play over the intercom of the store in rotation with a dozen other patriotic songs. Maybe it should be used at the appropriate, time, place or venue. My guess is that someone picked a track of patriotic music and paid little attention to the fact the anthem was one of the musical pieces on the track. If you are going to play The Star Spangled Banner over your intercom, give us something more to salute than a cake. If you are going to play our National Anthem, at the least, have a flag!
May God Bless the men and women, both past and present, who have served in the armed forces of the United States of America. Your service to our country and personal sacrifices in the name of freedom will never be forgotten. We remember you on this Memorial Day and every day of the year.