In the Background: The Space Force Hymn
Most people know by now that the US now has a “Space Force” along with its Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Much ado has been made about many very serious issues in that force, like what to call the Servicemembers in that force (Space men? Space cadets?) and whether their new seal looks too much like Star Trek and not enough like Battlestar Gallactica.
Another issue in the background has been the Space Force hymn. The Force doesn’t have one yet, but officials have noted that a song is a Service tradition, much like its uniform and rank structure.
Apparently, one song has already been offered – and it immediately stirred controversy with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The song was written by a former Air Force officer named James Linzey, who was an Air Force and Army chaplain. (Linzey has an interesting history as well, as he was endorsed by the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches. The CFGC was led by Jim Ammerman and counted Gordon Klingenschmitt among his ranks. The duo and the CFGC were sued unsuccessfully by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein.) Linzey even created a website for the song.
Despite the fact Linzey is a private citizen and the Space Force has been largely silent on the subject, the FFRF was quick to jump on Linzey’s press release and “seek assurances” from the Space Force that they would “not adopt an official hymn.”
To the extent a hymn is merely a song, they will likely not get those assurances. To the extent that Service traditions frequently contain hymns with religious references, they may yet fail there, as well. The Air Force hymn, for example, is merely the third verse of the Air Force Song – though it does call upon God to “guard and guide” Airmen who fly. (Until very recently, it was “the men who fly.” It has been “updated” with gender-neutral language and now says “all those who fly.” Even with modern edits, it still says “Lord.”) It is the famous Marine Corps hymn (“From the halls of Montezuma…”) that notes US Marines guard the streets of heaven. The Army Song calls on their “Faith in God, then we’re right” as the Army “goes rolling along.”
If tradition has anything to do with it, the FFRF will likely be disappointed. Then again, recent events have demonstrated that tradition and history are not strong enough arguments to overcome the delicate and easily offended constitutions of those who would rather erase history than learn from it. The Air Force song has already been gender-neutralized. How long will it be before American society demands that the Marines not sing in celebration of their conquests in Mexico and Africa, and the Army not revel in its battles with Native Americans?
Perhaps the Space Force should forego a song after all, and instead should solemnize its formal events with a spoken word introduction — narrated by William Shatner, of course.