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That’s right, I said it: There is a right way and a wrong way to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” We’re all familiar with the growing list of celebs who have botched the words. Maybe if show-off singers weren’t so caught up in trying to outdo everyone with their vocal gymnastics, they could concentrate on the upcoming words that actually give significance to the song they are presenting.

We’ve all heard it: “O’er the la-hand of the FUH-reeEEEEeeeEEEeeeEEEeee … and the Ha-ome … of … the … Bruh-aay-ee-aay-ee-aay-ee-aay-ee-aay-V!”

Stop it already! It’s not about you. It’s about the message of the anthem. It’s about honoring and memorializing the sacrifice of the patriots who have made America “the land of the free.”

Our anthem is not a pop song, it’s not a “tune,” and it’s not part of the sporting event it typically precedes. It should be presented with respect, so sing it that way. Some citizens actually like to sing along, which is rendered impossible when self-aggrandizing singers see how many pitch changes they can squeeze in a 3/4 measure.

So if you are ever privileged to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a sporting event one day, why not sing with a purpose that excludes personal accolades for creativity? Present the words in a way that’s not distracting from the message. Choose to sing our anthem in a manner that bridges the generational divide of a grandfather with his grandson, who can place their hands over their hearts and sing to an anthem they can both recognize.

Let’s emphasize our unity for a change, rather than our diversity. Both are good, and both have their given place in time.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bill Young (retired)

Fort Rucker, Ala.

9/11 ‘Beetle Bailey’ incomplete

I found it both ironic and disappointing that the current creators of the comic strip “Beetle Bailey” (Mort, Greg and Brian Walker) would choose to remember Sept. 11, 2001, by having each of the long-running strip’s characters — most being members of the Army — shown crying, but only for friends and families killed at the World Trade Center.

What about those killed at the Pentagon — you know, the place Brig. Gen. Halftrack supposedly receives his orders from? Though not as spectacular, the loss of life at the Pentagon was every bit as tragic, and for those killed battling the terrorists on United Flight 93, it was both tragic and every bit as heroic.

Lt. Col. Wayne M. Crawford (retired)

Stuttgart, Germany

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