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Will North Carolina’s State Anthem Still Be Pathetic In 2040?

by | Aug 2, 2023 | Future, North Carolina | 0 comments

And now, for a topic of the utmost seriousness for the next generation…North Carolina has a state anthem that is pathetic. When I attended the University of Michigan, I remember everyone standing at football games and singing our college fight song Hail to the Victors. It was short – less than a minute and a half. It was rousing. It was written in a register in which almost everyone can sing. If you went to U of M, you probably knew the words by the end of your first semester:

Hail! to the victors valiant

Hail! to the conquering heroes

Hail! Hail! to Michigan

The leaders and best!

Hail! To the victors valiant

Hail! to the conquering heroes

Hail! Hail! to Michigan

The champions of the west!

Actually, this is verse number three of five, but it is the only one anyone remembers. The other four verses seem dated and boring. Really, the one verse is all you need to create a sense of unity in a crowd.

North Carolina’s anthem is a bit out of date

Compare Hail to the Victors to The Old North State, the state anthem of North Carolina:

Carolina! Carolina! Heaven’s blessings attend her!
While we live we will cherish, protect and defend her;
Though the scorner may sneer at and witlings defame her,
Our hearts swell with gladness whenever we name her.
       Hurrah! Hurrah! The Old North State forever!
       Hurrah! Hurrah! The good Old North State!

Though she envies not others their merited glory,
Say, whose name stands the foremost in Liberty’s story!
Though too true to herself e’er to crouch to oppression,
Who can yield to just rule more loyal submission?

Plain and artless her sons, but whose doors open faster
At the knock of a stranger, or the tale of disaster?
How like to the rudeness of their dear native mountains,
With rich ore in their bosoms and life in their fountains.

And her daughters, the Queen of the Forest resembling–
So graceful, so constant, yet to gentlest breath trembling;
And true lightwood at heart, let the match be applied them,
How they kindle and flame! Oh! none know but who’ve tried them.

Then let all who love us, love the land that we live in
(As happy a region on this side of Heaven),
Where Plenty and Freedom, Love and Peace smile before us,
Raise aloud, raise together, the heart-thrilling chorus!

State songs don’t have to be boring

Now I have to admit that Hail To The Victors is a bit dated, which is natural since it was written in 1898. No one talks about “victors valiant” or “conquering heroes” any more. But, it does pull a crowd of strangers together. It has just 37 words. It’s memorable. Almost anyone can learn it and sing it. U of M fans sing it enthusiastically 125 years after it was written.

Georgia has Georgia On My Mind, Kentucky has My Old Kentucky Home, West Virginia has Country Roads, Take Me Home. What does North Carolina have? Boring, dated, sanctimonious, and bland.

So, before our grandchildren grow old in state song deprivation, let’s have contests in North Carolina to select new state songs. Entries should be less than 90 seconds long, easy to learn, easy to sing, and rousing. Let’s give our citizens something to be proud of!


I stand by my argument that we need a new anthem in North Carolina, but it is not a topic of “the utmost seriousness for the next generation,” of course. It is way down the list from giving our children and grandchildren great educations, ensuring prosperity, protecting their well-being, protecting their natural environment, and ensuring their liberties. However, a good state song is not meaningless, either.

In 1983 Benedict Anderson wrote a book called Imagined Communities to help explain how people can feel kinship with millions of people they don’t know and will never meet. Unlike natural communities of relatives and neighbors, “imagined communities” — like states and nations — are built with symbols and institutions. Having a common history helps bind people to the idea of their state. Participating in the decisions of their government can make people feel invested in their state. And even the humble state anthem has a role to play in building pride in an identity as a North Carolinian.




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