Discussion continues as anthem premiere approaches

By Kelsey Shue and Marlys Weaver

The national anthem will premiere on Tuesday, March 23 before the baseball and softball games. The baseball team will host Siena Heights College at 1 p.m. and the softball team will host St. Joseph’s College at 3 p.m.

Peter Breiner’s version of the anthem will be played before each game. He’s the same musician who “composed all of the world anthems for the Athens Olympics years ago,” said Bev Lapp, Goshen College music professor. In the future, a Goshen College string quartet may have the opportunity to record a version composed by one of its own alumni. Details are not yet finalized.

During an annual alumni and donor visit to Lancaster, Penn., President Brenneman shared about the decision to play the anthem at sporting events.

Some local alumni are still strongly opposed to the anthem and have plans to protest the decision on March 23.  Andy Alexis-Baker, from the group Jesus Radicals, plans to remain quietly seated during the national anthem. He and his wife, Nekeisha, will dress in black and cover their face with ashes.

“As the prophets did when they mourned Israel’s usually idolatrous sins,” Alexis-Baker added.

Talk of protesting has made many baseball players anxious about what to expect. Some speculated that if fans were really loud and disrespectful, the players might have to leave the field to sit down and compose themselves in the dugout while the anthem is played.

Many baseball players are tired of the disrespect they have felt already. Recently removed from the Facebook group “Against Goshen College Playing the National Anthem” was a photo of an upside-down flag being burned with an anarchy sign on it.

“They think we don’t believe in God,” said Ben Diedring, pitcher for the Maple Leafs.

“I just hope [if people do protest] it doesn’t stop us from playing it for the rest of the year,” said Shane Davis, who is also a pitcher for the Leafs.

While there is talk of protests at the game, some are protesting in other ways.

Rose Shetler, assistant director of annual giving, organizes the phonathon, a campaign held twice a year where students call alumni and other friends of the college asking for donations to the college.

Shetler said during the first week of this semester’s phonathon, which began Monday, March 8, 12 people had said they would not donate to the college this year because of the decision to play the anthem. If donors do not choose to donate, though, students do not ask why, so the number not donating because of the decision could be higher. Shetler, however, is keeping a tally of the people who go ahead and say that they are not donating because of the anthem. A few more were added this week.

Overall, though, they seem to be in line with past year’s donations, and Shetler is happy with the turnout.

“I thought it would be more of an issue than what it is,” she said.

“The students have had wonderful conversations about any number of things,” she said, “but they don’t center around that issue.”

While some plan to protest on or off the baseball and softball diamond or attend just to see what happens, others will attend for the love of the game.

“I like baseball,” Betsy Houser, a senior who plans to attend, said. “Because the anthem is being played wouldn’t make it or break it for me.”

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Written by Kelsey Shue

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