I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
One More "In Case You Didn't Know"
July 15, 2018
Yeah About That:
One More “in Case You Didn’t Know”
I’m still recovering from the FIFA World Cup Championship fever”1. My students and Notta in particular don’t quite get my preference for European football – “it’s just too much running,” one commented.
“You mean, as opposed to the pitched battle formations of North American Football?” I asked. Blank stares. Sometimes I have to remember not everyone has read Keegan, or even von Clausevitz2, and wouldn’t know a pitched battle from a strike out at home plate.
However, the games make for good geography lessons, at the very least. My students were able to locate Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, and Croatia, which apparently were all new to them. True, some had trouble finding England, Germany, France and Japan , but we’re working on it. “Why bother?” one young lady who had to keep her cell phone in one hand while she tried to take notes with the other. “I’m never going to go there and they’re all just so foreign.”
Notta raised her infamous finger. “What about all the things we’ve gotten from them?”
“Like what?” the phone lady challenged. “I’m American. I buy American.”
“You eat Sushi?”
“No, I hate fish.”
“How about hot dogs?”
“Well, sure, that’s American!”
“Based on German sausages,” Notta told her. “I noticed you had a breakfast sandwich on a croissant. Where did we get croissants from?”
“The bakery.” As I always say, there’s always one weisenheimer.
“OK, the French.”
Then another student spoke up, and made my teacher’s heart sing. She remembered. “Hey, didn’t you say the USA got its national anthem from a British drinking song?”
“Yes, and that wasn’t the only patriotic song we ‘borrowed’,” I said. “Ever heard of ‘My Country ‘tis of Thee’?”
“That’s so much easier than the Spangled Banner,” the phone lady said. “How old is that one?”
“Tradition says it was written as a hymn in 1832 by Samuel F. Smith. The lyrics, that is. The melody happens to be the same as the British National Anthem.”
“No s—t!” a young man burst out. I cleared my throat. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I need to work on my vocabulary. But are you serious?”
“No, I’m Mrs. G,” I replied to groans, “but yes, Smith wrote new lyrics to the British National Anthem, that has been around since 1745, maybe even going back to 1619. Nobody’s sure. I think other countries might have riffed on the melody, but the British claim it was written by Thomas Arne. The melody works for both songs.”
“Prove it!” the phone lady challenged.
Well, I sent them on break. With a bit of online help, I produced the following and challenged them to sing either with the same, familiar melody. And by the way, how many of us knew how many verses there were to either?
The British National Anthem3
God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.
O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall;
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all! .
Thy choicest gifts in store, On her be pleased to pour; Long may she reign: May she defend our laws, And ever give us cause, To sing with heart and voice, God save the Queen!
My Country ‘tis of Thee4
My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing; Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrims' pride, From every mountainside Let freedom ring!
My native country, thee, Land of the noble free, Thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, Thy woods and templed hills; My heart with rapture thrills, Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze, And ring from all the trees Sweet freedom's song; Let mortal tongues awake; Let all that breathe partake; Let rocks their silence break, The sound prolong.
Our fathers' God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom's holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.
“Well,” commented the young man with the questionable vocabulary, “at least we got one more verse than they did.”
Games ended today, July 15, with France winning over Croatia.
Carl von Clausevitz, Prussian officer and military theorist, whom most can quote as saying, “War is politics by other means.” What they forget is his other definition of war: “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will,' directed by political motives and morality. ( Clausewitz 1940: Book I, Ch. I) War is neither a scientific game nor an international sport; it is an act of violence, characterized by destruction.”