It did start me thinking about national anthems and patriotic fervor in general. I've been enjoying living in a different country, and talking a lot about trying to stay longer. Or getting citizenship please don't kick me out now does anyone want to hire me? That process has made me recognize my own ideas and biases around each culture - the one I grew up with, and the one I have, for the time being, chosen. "Cultural cringe" is a real phenomenon, but I also value many things about my home country. Look at our National Parks, personal freedoms, and human rights! (Eh...never mind.)
Anyway, back to anthems. I grew up with "The Star Spangled Banner," "America the Beautiful," and "My Country 'Tis of Thee." England has - to my limited knowledge - "God Save the Queen," "Jerusalem," "Land of Hope and Glory," and "I Vow to Thee My Country." The second and fourth on that list are quite pretty, if you haven't heard them. A few observations. First: I love how America just renamed and re-worded the main one of these. Classic us. Second: most of these feature religion pretty heavily, which is interesting. It's something I've noticed in the States too, the connection between religiosity and patriotism. I don't know if that's because of the historical connection between God and nation-building, or if people who have faith in one thing tend to have it in others as well. (I always think of the combination of American flags and Marian statues on lawns in one of my family's hometowns.) It can be a nice idea, to have these inspiring songs that encourage us to higher, better things. Except...
But is there still a need for nationalism? Nowadays "identity" is so scattered, multifaceted, and above all individual. There is powerful potential in cultivating civic pride, but nationalism, like any 'ism,' is also extremely vulnerable to misuse. (See 'blood-watered furrows' above.) History holds too many examples to count of nationalism, or any exclusionary criteria, being used to attack an 'other.'
I don't really have an answer, except the usual 'it's all about finding a balance' and maybe 'trade nicely and don't actively antagonize your neighbors.' Because we need people to contribute to some notion of a society, but also not to keep fighting nebulous, pointless wars with those who disagree with us. We could start to get into how wars protect that notion of a society, but this is a blog, not a world-problems-solving site. You're going to have to pay to access that content.
P.S. Look, all the flags of the countries I just discussed are the same colors in different combinations. Is that saying something about how we can look for our deeper similarities rather than our differences? Maybe, but that's past the paywall too.