National anthems and their geographic implications

On March 3, 1931, the Star-Spangled Banner was signed into law as the official national anthem of the United States. While our national anthem is essentially a battle hymn, that is not the case for many countries in the world.

Star-Spangled-Banner-1908-1919.jpg

The flag that was still there? This one.


Take these translated lyrics of Israel’s national anthem for example:

The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

The lyrics define a particular place that is sacred to Israelis and
then exclaim that, for two thousand years, it has been their destiny to
live there. Of course, this claim of land ownership based on sacred
grounds has some folks up in arms. If you have watched the news at all
for, oh… the last 40-odd years, you probably have heard about the
Arab/Israeli conflict that has manifested itself in border disputes
between the fledgling state of Israel and its surrounding Arab
neighbors.
 
Ink_flag.jpg

The ‘Ink Flag’ is a symbol of Israeli independence

Perhaps it is no surprise then, that Palestine’s national anthem is one of struggle against adversity:

By my strong will and my inflaming rage, my volcanic revenge
By my yearning blood for my land and home
I have climbed the mountains and combated struggles
I have subdued in the impossible and smashed the shackles

palestinian-flag.jpg

The flag of Palestine

The violent yet heroic lyrics suggest a national culture of pride
against oppression and a longing for a day when Palestinians can
reclaim their lands. The two anthems, of course, represent the cultural
identities of these countries in much the same way our Star-Spangled
Banner represents ours–as a general barometer of national identity but
in no way a consensus.

Some countries, like Australia, choose not to extol the victories of
war, but instead proclaim the geography of their territories. This
verse is primarily concerned with the physical geography of the country:

Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts,
Of beauty rich and rare

Indeed, Australia is surrounded by oceans and the author of this song would like you to know that.
 
593px-Topographic90deg_S0E90.jpg

Behold, oceans do indeed surround Australia

In this next verse, lyrics proclaiming Australia’s location in the
Southern Hemisphere are combined with descriptions of its governmental
system and its continuing legacy as a nation of immigrants, examples of
both it’s location in relation to the rest of the world as well as it’s
cultural traditions:

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with heart and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours,
Renowned through all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas,
We’ve boundless plains to share;

So after taking a look at some of these national anthems, do you see
your country’s anthem in a new light? What geographic elements,
cultural or physical, are described in the song?

Cameron
for My Wonderful World

One response to “National anthems and their geographic implications

  1. Yes, I practically find these two lines interesting and eye catching.
    “For those who’ve come across the seas,
    We’ve boundless plains to share;”
    So is it indeed a wonder why people from all over the world come down here to live?
    At this point of time, there are already hundreds of boat people seeking asylum to live in this vast country.

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