Boyne City man inspires remembrance of Star Spangled Banner’s 200th anniversary

star spangled web

Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

One Boyne City man’s patriotism could help ensure Americans everywhere never forget this nation’s most treasured tune.

Thanks to those efforts, Michigan’s First District U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek has introduced a bill that would recognize the 200th anniversary of the penning of the Star Spangled Banner.

“I noticed that several notable anniversaries had taken place, and that nobody paid attention to them,” said Boyne City resident Gene Barfield. “A couple of friends and I got to talking and decided that, even though people might think we were crazy, we’d give it a shot.”
Barfield, who is a history major, said dates like the Sept. 14 anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner’s 200th year mean a lot to him.

Barfield prepared an essay, outlining the significance of the song that became America’s national anthem, which he sent to Benishek.

“Dawn, on the morning of Sept. 14, 2014, is the 200th Anniversary of the morning on which Francis Scott Key arose and saw the Star Spangled Banner still flying gloriously over the battered ramparts of Fort McHenry, in Baltimore Harbor. After a furious 27-hour bombardment by the British, during the War of 1812, the presence of that flag still flying above the fort inspired Key to write the words that would later become the National Anthem of the United States of America,” Barfield wrote. “The ‘National Anthem Sing!’ is an effort to get as many Americans as possible, wherever they may be, to arise early on this coming Sept. 14 morning, and gather together however they please, to sing together the one song that represents every one of us.”

According to Barfield’s proposal, ideally a signal would be sent from Fort McHenry at dawn to the site of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Penn., where it would be carefully tapped, signaling to the country to begin a national bell ringing and singing of the National Anthem.

“Suddenly, I got a call from Congressman Benishek,” Barfield said. “Suddenly, this gave it all a whole new level of credibility, and it’s slowly taking off.”

Benishek introduced the resolution in the U.S. Congress last week.

“The Star Spangled Banner tells the story of America—a story about triumph over great challenges and how ordinary people can change the world. We all know the lines to this simple, but extraordinary poem, and its words ring as true today as they did two centuries ago. Gene brought a great idea to our attention, and I was humbled to be able to introduce this measure in Congress,” stated Benishek in a press release late last week. “Whether it’s at the inauguration of the president or before the start of a middle school basketball game, hearing the Star Spangled Banner gives pride and inspiration to all of us. And it reminds us all that our freedoms have come at a cost and that liberty is worth any sacrifice.”

According to Barfield’s proposal, the nation-wide National Anthem Sing! initiative is for people in communities across America to take up the call, and begin to organize in their towns and cities.

“School teachers and children are called on to adopt the event, and work within their schools and communities to encourage participation by every musical organization, civic organizations of all kinds, municipal government, and everyone who has a voice or a bell, to join in making plans for their community to create the largest, greatest National Anthem Sing ever,” Barfield stated. “Colleges and universities across America are invited to mobilize their bands, orchestras and choirs, and to encourage students and faculty to reach out to other similar organizations, to encourage and coordinate participation.”

He stated further, “Units of the various Armed Forces of the United States are invited to adopt the program, and to begin planning at each ship and station, to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event. As various military units, stations and vessels make plans to participate with as many of their people as duty permits, the event will transcend the national borders of the United States and be heard around the world. Advocates for the event call for ringing of ship and station bells as dawn breaks over Fort McHenry that morning, and for formal and informal participation in the National Anthem Sing! itself, as each command deems appropriate.”

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