Recently, the principal of an elementary school in New York City refused to allow the kindergarten classes to perform Lee Greenwood’s very patriotic hit song “God Bless the USA” during their commencement ceremony.
Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, would’t allow kindergartners to belt out the beloved Lee Greenwood ballad, also known as “Proud to be an American,” at their moving-up ceremony.
Five classes spent months learning the patriotic song, which skyrocketed in popularity after the 9/11 attacks and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
It was to be the rousing finale of their musical show at the June 20 commencement. The kids would dress up and would wave tiny American flags — which, as the lyrics proclaim, “still stand for freedom.”
But school staff said that during a recent rehearsal, Ms. Hawkins entered the room and ordered a CD playing the song to be shut off. She told the teachers to drop the song from the program.
“We don’t want to offend other cultures,” they quoted her as explaining.
Jessica Scaperotti, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, gave the New York Post a different explanation that staffers said they never heard - that Hawkins found the lyrics “too grown up” for 5-year-olds.
The song starts:
“If tomorrow all the things were gone
I’d worked for all my life
and I had to start again
with just my children and my wife
I’d thank my lucky stars, to be living’ here today...”
Scaperotti said the department supports the principal’s decision. “The lyrics are not age-appropriate,” she said.
But Justin Bieber’s flirty song about teen romance, “Baby,” was deemed a fine selection for the show. Hawkins had no problem with 5-year-olds singing lines such as, “Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.”
Apparently it’s OK in New York for kindergarten children to sing about male/female relationships but not about loving your country. Not sure why this would surprise anyone given the recent New York court decision that it’s OK to view child pornography on a computer as long as you don’t download it or store it. Gotta love New York!
I proudly attach Mr. Greenwood’s version of the song here:
I read this story this morning just after viewing a video I received in an e-mail. The video was “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, one of my all time favorite songs. The version in the video was done by school children but I have included a version done by the U.S. Army Chorus.
The history of the song…
Implicit trust in God's guidance and protection is never easy in times of danger or strife. During the Civil War between the Northern and Southern states, a woman named Julia Ward Howe proclaimed her confidence in God's triumphant power in her inspiring text.
Mrs. Howe watched troops marching off to war singing "John Brown's Body," a song about a man who had been hanged for his efforts to free the slaves. Mrs. Howe thought the tune should have better words so, in a desire to express her own feelings about the dreadful events of the time, she "scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper." The national hymn first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine in 1862, as a battle song for the republic
Mrs. Howe's hymn has been acclaimed through the years as one of our finest patriotic songs. It is told that at one time it was sung as a solo at a large rally attended by President Abraham Lincoln. After the audience had responded with loud applause, the President, with tears in his eyes, cried out, "Sing it again!" It was sung again. And after more than a hundred years, it is still sung by patriotic Americans at gatherings all over the country. It’s a favorite on Independence Day.
I know some non-believers who would be critical of the song, saying it should never be used by a country who professes a separation between church and state. I would disagree. While I support their right to disagree with the lyrics of the song – I don’t ask them to sing it or even listen to it. I love the song and its meaning and I refuse to be politically correct to the point of allowing someone else to tell me I can’t sing or post this song.
Oh – and if you don’t like what I say in my blog, feel free to not read it. You won’t hurt my feelings, trust me.
God bless America. We need it now more than ever!