Sunday, February 06, 2011

National Anthem, Lovecraft and Robert Ripley

Many who are Lovecraft fans know that he had some quirky habits. One was to sing the National Anthem "tune" but the drinking song words. To anyone's knowledge, he never did it at a Rhode Island Reds game or elsewhere, so he was not decked or punched out.

A somewhat contemporary - the cartoonist Robert Ripley became well known by creating his "Believe It Or Not" in the 1920's. He got in quite a bit of hot water, when on November 3, 1929, he drew a panel in his syndicated cartoon saying "Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem."

Lovecraft was not a public person - people really had no idea who Lovecraft was in those days. Ripley, however, was quite well known and sort of a rock-star celebrity of the era. People were angry. The controversy raged, and while Ripley was correct, it took some time to get the ire of America under control.

In 1931, beloved John Philip Sousa published his opinion stating that "it is the spirit of the music that inspires" as much as it is Key’s "soul-stirring" words.

This got the political adrenaline flowing. For once Congress decided it could make a decision, and moved a bill up to the president. By a law signed on March 3, 1931 by President Herbert Hoover, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was finally adopted as the national anthem of the United States.

Lovecraft would have followed this story with a sly glee, but if he wrote of it, Chrispy does not know.

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