Some countries need to jazz it up

By Michael Howlett

September 12, 2013

You know, the Winter Olympic Games are just around the corner, just over five months away. Yes, exciting sports we seldom see will be on display. Some people may prefer skating or skiing, or luge or ice hockey, but my favorite is curling.

Now, you may ask “How in the name of Paavo Nurmi can you say that?” Well, it’s simple really; in the time it takes an athlete … hey, stop that laughing … to slide the stone toward the scoring circle I have time to make a sandwich, take care of any personal hygiene issues that may have arisen and wash the car, and I don’t miss a thing.

However, we are not here to talk about curling or any other sport, we are here to talk about national anthems. Some of the most stirring moments during the Olympics is when a winning athlete stands on the podium and listens to his country’s national anthem being played in his or her honor.

While some of the national anthems have titles of a dramatic nature – our own “Star Spangled Banner,” Norway’s “Loyal Until The Mountains Crumble,” Greece’s “Freedom Or Death,” Belize’s “Land Of The Free,” or North and South Korea’s “The Patriotic Song,” some fall short in the inspiration category.

Bolivia, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Lithuania all have the same name for the song that is supposed to praise their county, as well as inspire its people. Each country’s national anthem is named …. get ready for it … “The National Anthem.” Those goobers are a pretty apathetic bunch.

Of course, being apathetic beats the hell out of picking a national anthem that sounds like it was chosen by someone who had recently taken several head shots from a baseball bat; and yes, my friends, the names of some national anthems give one that impression.

Now, one of the countries with a mystifying national anthem is the Czech Republic, which proudly calls “Where Is My Home?” its song of songs. Okay, the Czechs have been through a lot of changes during their history. The country was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and during World War II it belonged to Germany. It’s been a democratic republic, a communist state and a socialist republic before finally becoming a democratic republic once again in 1993. You can forgive the Czechs if they don’t know what kind of government they have, but forget where their country is … well, it’s like every Czech citizen got hit in the head with a baseball bat.

Romania apparently has a problem with narcolepsy since its anthem is “Wake Up Romania.” You would think those crazy Romanians would try to stay awake since the country is full of vampires, but noooo, they are always falling asleep at the most awkward times, one reason the country’s population is on the decline.

The Netherlands has, perhaps, the most perplexing national anthem of them all, “The William.” Now, I’m sure there must be some sort of a famous William or Willy, for that matter, in the history of Holland, The Netherlands’ alias, but if you have to take a history course just to understand what a country’s national anthem is talking about, you might as well name it “Strum Your Koras, Strike The Balafons.” It works for Senegal.

There are plenty of other strange national anthems, including Bangladesh’s “My Golden Bengal,” Bhutan’s “The Thunder Dragon Kingdom,” Angora’s “The Great Charlemagne My Grandfather,” and Lichtenstein’s “Up On The Young Rhine,” which sounds a bit off-color to me.

However, of all the national anthems my favorite is that of Poland, “Poland Is Not Lost Yet.” It’s the yet that gets me. It’s like the poles, as well as their pole dancers, figure it won’t be long before some other country strolls in and takes over the joint. Poland, like the Czech Republic, has had its share of interlopers, so I can understand why they are uncertain of its future, but Poland needs to man up and put on a strong front.

I mean if they can’t come up an anthem like “You Better Watch It” or “We’ve Been Working Out So Back Off,” at least they could follow Luxembourg’s lead with an anthem that appears to ask for mercy, “We Want To Remain The Way We Are.”