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God Bless AmericaThe Surprising History of an Iconic Song$
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Sheryl Kaskowitz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199919772

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919772.001.0001

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My Home Sweet Home (Plate)

My Home Sweet Home (Plate)

Baseball and “God Bless America”

(p.116) Chapter 6 My Home Sweet Home (Plate)
God Bless America

Sheryl Kaskowitz

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 looks at professional baseball stadiums—where “God Bless America” continues to be a part of the game—in order to understand the song’s function within contemporary public life, more than ten years after the September 11th attacks. Drawing on interviews, observations, and responses from an online survey on attitudes about the song, the chapter examines differences in the song’s role at a small sample of major- and minor-league ballparks to highlight tensions between local, vernacular commemoration and a top-down, official nationalism. It also explores recent responses to the song’s inclusion, showing that “God Bless America” has now become what anthropologist Victor Turner has dubbed a “multivocal symbol,” invoking different meanings for different people in the stands. Sincere commemoration, support for the troops, forced patriotism, and other associations coexist in this newly invented tradition within the ritualized pageantry of baseball.

Keywords:   God Bless America, baseball, stadiums, major league, minor league, September 11th, 9/11, invented tradition, attitudes, commemoration, nationalism, multivocal symbol, forced, patriotism

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