Why A National Anthem?
America has had many, many patriotic songs throughout out history. In fact, it was a lack of an "official" song that in part contributed to this wealth of music. The "Star Spangled Banner" didn't become the national anthem until the 1950s. In fact, that's when a lot of things that are controversial today (adding "under God" to The Pledge of Allegiance, for example) were done, all in the name of proving how religiously free America was in contrast to the godless Commies.
But let's face it. The SSB is a tough one to sing. And there are times when a softer song might better fit an occasion, like "America The Beautiful." Even Socialist propaganda like "This Land Is Your Land" have their times and places. "The Battle Hymn of The Republic?" More than a few people would love to belt that one out in these post 9-11 days. Newer songs don't easily enter the popular patriotic lexicon anymore, like Lee Greenwood's "Proud To Be An American," which enjoys a wide following, and in another time would have become a national patriotic song.
Yeah, it is very popular and widely played, but with "SSB" as the officially designated anthem, it's just another patriotic song. The music industry don't help either, with their "profit before patriotism" mentality that makes sure songs are money-makers first and foremost. Who knows how many songs since the rock-and-roll era launched might have entered the popular imagination and become the new emotional glue binding generations to the American spirit? We can't know, since the SSB automatically makes all such efforts moot.
I say, let's drop "the" National Anthem and return to the days when we had lots and lots of them, free for the choosing depending on the crowd, the event and the mood of the day. After all, freedom of choice is the American way.