Recently some of us from work went to a ceremony at a college across the way. It’s a small branch campus of THE major university in the state. There are a lot of colleges and universities in this state, but it’s THE one. You know the kind of university I’m talking about. Just about every state has one.
On the way back to work one of us spoke up first. “Well, when we were singing the alma mater I was thinking to myself, ‘Hmmm. That’s something this Iowa girl never thought she’d be doing.'” “Did you SING?,” I asked incredulously. “Well, sort of,” she said. Another woman said, “I hummed.” “Ugh,” I said. “I was asking for forgiveness in my head for being there, and hoping that none of it would get on me.” “Well, the second woman said, “one of my daughters went there (the home campus). It’s in my financial history.” “Oh, well, that counts then;” I excused her for her daughter’s and her bank account’s sake. The fourth woman remained conspicuously silent.
It struck me as funny though that all four of us were trying to live through the alma mater as we stood there listening to it, it not being any of our own many alma maters. As a matter of fact, I was kind of cringing through the whole thing. It’s almost silly how indoctrinated one can become over the period of your life by a piece of music. But indoctrination it is. If I had heard any of my own alma maters I would have been quite comfortable, or even proud. I’m sure the people there who were graduates or had grown up as football fans felt entirely differently.
It’s much the same at the Olympics when the U.S.A. wins gold and we hear the bronze and silver songs first. Then we hear the Star Spangled Banner and we feel pride and all feels just right. But if some other country wins, it kind of makes us uncomfortable if we have to listen to a different country’s national anthem when the gold metal is being awarded. It makes us cringe a wee bit.
It’s all about indoctrination. Not that it’s right or wrong. It’s just something to keep in mind. Diversity is a good thing. There’s no college that’s good or bad just because of it’s alma mater, or it’s fight song, or it’s mascot. It’s just what we come to appreciate and to care about.
There’s no country that’s good or bad because of it’s flag, or colors, or national anthem. It’s much deeper than that of course. It’s about philosophy, freedom, politics, government, and how people are valued.
I am a proud pumpkin when I hear “Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner…” and “Oklahoma…where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.” But I am still in awe of the country we live in, and the concepts held so dear, each time I hear “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed….”
It may very well be indoctrination, but I am a proud Oklahoma grad, and a blessed and grateful citizen of the United States. God bless the USA.