The national anthem was in the news this past weekend, and you’ll love it

By —— Bio and Archives--September 10, 2018

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Like he did during the 1968 World Series, José Feliciano sings the anthem Saturday
With as much controversy as has surrounded the national anthem in recent times, it’s a real treat to be able to share a story about it that’s pure joy and brought happiness to everyone connected to it.

I have a story like that for you, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you of it.


This past weekend in Detroit, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our 1968 World Series champion Tigers. Most of those still living – which is sadly less than half the team – were in attendance on Saturday night to be honored by the present-day Tigers and fans. This was a special team that brought happiness to a city that had been bruised by riots just the previous year. It’s one of the special chapters in the history of our city.

But the 1968 World Series was not without a controversy of its own, involving the national anthem. Tigers radio broadcaster Ernie Harwell arranged for a young friend of his – a pop and folk singer named Jose Feliciano – to perform the anthem at Game 5 of the World Series in Detroit. Feliciano, who is blind, performed a very unusual version of the anthem – performed on guitar while the sunglasses-clad, long-haired young man sang a stirring but highly unconventional version of the song.

You have to recall the historical context, but at the height of Vietnam and during the rise of the hippie movement, many people mistook Feliciano’s performance for a sign of disrespect. They had never heard the anthem performed like this, and they thought this long-haired guy who sang with sunglasses on was thumbing his nose at America. It became a heated controversy. Feliciano took heavy criticism, as did Ernie Harwell for booking him.

Eventually the truth came out: Feliciano loved America, and his rendition of the anthem was his attempt to express that live in a uniquely creative way. Over time, people realized their first reaction had been wrong, and Detroit came to appreciate Jose Feliciano and his place in the city’s history.


With the 1968 Tigers brought back together on the 50th anniversary of their World Series win, the Tigers made a wonderful choice and invited none other than Jose Feliciano – now 72 years old – to once again perform the national anthem. Blind from birth, he still wears his sunglasses and still has long hair. And once again, 50 years later, he delivered the national anthem as only he could:

No one knelt. No one raised a fist. No one protested.

And when the anthem was done, Jose Feliciano received the massive love and applause he had deserved 50 years earlier, and he told us, “I love you, Detroit.”

We love you too, Jose. Thanks so much for coming back for this. It wouldn’t have been complete without you.

Like he did during the 1968 World Series, José Feliciano sings the anthem Saturday


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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain

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