Was I an Ugly American Abroad?

Do you know all the words to your national anthem?  This is my ugly American moment: I remember taking this local tour through Ireland with 20 other young lads and lasses from Canada, Australia, and America. Actually I was the only American. I believe our Irish tour guide to have had it out for me or he just had a cheeky way of flirting, because he always came up with these contests or games that made me, as an American, stand out. At one point, the extremely “Cheeky Irish Lad” in charge of the tour made everyone sing their national anthem, ALL verses, on the microphone, before being allowed out of the bus for the next stop at a local pub. I have to admit that I was nervous to sing the national anthem into a microphone, by myself, because to be honest, I didn’t know all FOUR verses of my national anthem.

Everyone, but me, was excited to sing their anthem, and they all sung, yelled, belted with great pride when given their microphone opportunity. While everyone else was singing, I sat sweating, fearing my moment where I would stand and be an Ugly American. According to Wiki: Ugly American is a “pejorative term used to refer to perceptions of loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior of American citizens mainly abroad.” I feared my ignorance of my anthem was about to label me as an Ugly American, but also because their isn’t much empathy or room for imperfection abroad with Americans.

The Australians went first, two versus and some 14 singing, together, no big deal.
Then the 5+ Canadians sung their Anthem, which I would have thought to be a joke (so easy) if all of them hadn’t been singing it together. Then I had to stand alone for America and choke out 4 VERY LONG and HARD verses. I only made it through the first verse and then I literally choked/froze because I knew no more….. So, I just switched over to the song Amazing grace, suppose I was looking for sympathy? Then everyone on the bus started to sing along with me. It was a very sweet and moving moment. I think of this funny incident every-time 4th of July comes around. I also think of America’s unique (extremely hard) anthem compared to other countries. In the end, yes I was ignorant of the other three verses, but did that make me an ugly American? Either way, it was kind of the others to start singing with me and to make sure I was still allowed off the bus….Going forward, I always carried a cheat sheet of the anthem in my journal!

National Anthem: Canada(I wonder if this is one of the easiest anthems in the world?)


National Anthem: Australia  USA National Anthem: The Star Spangled Banner 
O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!From far and wide,O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.


Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
With golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fairBeneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair 
Oh, say! can you see by the dawn’s early lightWhat so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:

Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

In fully glory reflected now shines in the stream:

‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion

A home and a country should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution!

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.



Myself with my French roommate from Ireland and her friends in France...She took me to Paris for my birthday!
Myself with my French roommate from Ireland and her friends in France…She took me to Paris for my birthday!

Have you ever been an Ugly American? Have you ever tried to sing your national anthem? Do you know all the words to your national anthem? Happy 4th of July for our 239th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence!

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12 thoughts on “Was I an Ugly American Abroad?

  1. What American knows all four verses of the national anthem?! We always just sing the one! Yes, even though I really like our national anthem, it’s such a difficult song to sing.

    • Tricia, I agree! Until that moment in Ireland, I didn’t even know there were 4 verses of the national anthem. How many Americans know that? The Irish tour guide did and told me I had to sing them…AND I was surprised at how many Europeans I met that knew at least 2 verses, geez!!! And yes it is a difficult tune to carry anyhow!

    • Agreed Emily, the Canadians and Australians were so nice and I think they realized the expectations for me to belt out all 4 verses was unreal…I love how they all started singing Amazing Grace with me…will never forget that. Thanks for the sweet feedback!

    • Well I’m impressed Sandy that you know most of the words. I will forever carry a cheat sheet with me and when my sons are older and start to travel I hope to prepare them for all such situations…..

  2. We have a very long and difficult anthem, as beautiful as it is. I’m glad that the Amazing Grace turned into a special memory. When I travel abroad, I will be prepared.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the entire anthem! Don’t feel alone – I doubt anyone I know could have sung all 4 verses. Thank you for sharing over at Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party! I’ve pinned it on our Bloggers Brags board.

    • Thanks Joann! The sad thing is that several Europeans that I traveled with knew more of my anthem then I did…..

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