Say, Can You Sí?

Squeezed May 2, 2006

At this time when immigrant rights are in the news, a British record producer puts out a record with a Spanish language version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” However, that idea appears to have caused a backlash, as conservative bloggers and even the President have said, in effect, that the anthem was written in English and should be sung as such.

It actually turns out that “Nuestro Himno” is just the latest in a series. There’s not just one, not two, not three, but four versions of our anthem in Spanish. And that doesn’t even count the new “Nuestro Himno.” There’s even a version in French. I wasn’t able to find a version in Arabic, but some enterprising person who knows the language could probably write one.

Granted, the song may lose something in translation and not have quite the flavor of the original. But the ideas are there. Whether you call it liberdad, liberté, Freiheit, jiyu, or liberty, it’s the same the world over. It’s the same ideal that brings hundreds of thousands of people here, legally or otherwise.

On a related note, a Harris Interactive poll shows that nearly 61% of Americans don’t know all the words to the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Maybe we should establish a new requirement for the next presidential election. Whoever gets the nomination of the parties must be able to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” All the words, with perfect pitch, when he or she gives the acceptance speech. Given that it’s a challenge to sing, even for trained voices…I figure that if our next president can do that, he or she can do anything.

UPDATE: KnightErrant gives a very well-thought out essay, along with more translations.

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