School Bans ‘God Bless the USA’ From Kindergarten Graduation, Lee Greenwood Reacts
How young is too young to sing Lee Greenwood‘s patriotic anthem ‘Proud to Be an American’? According to PS90 principal Greta Hawkins, the country classic is not “age appropriate” to be performed during the Brooklyn, N.Y. elementary school’s kindergarten graduation.
So what, exactly, about the song does Hawkins deem inappropriate for 5-year-olds? A Department of Education spokeswoman explains that the song’s opening verse, “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,” is one line not sitting well with the principal.
“It’s her judgment to make that decision,” says City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, defending Hawkins’ decision to pull the patriotic anthem (quote via NY Post). “It’s important to reinforce that they start out the morning every day of the school year with the Pledge of Allegiance and ‘America the Beautiful,’ and that, to me, is what this country is about, and they celebrate that, and that’s how we should start our day.”
But Lee Greenwood, who penned and first sang the song back in 1984, thinks the discussion surrounding ‘God Bless the USA’ is a bit ridiculous — and it offends him personally.
“I wrote ‘God Bless the USA’ about the love I have for this country and the struggle we have gone through to remain free,” Greenwood responded (quote via Webster & Associates PR). “Our country was founded on the principle that it welcomes all cultures and gives them the same rights we have has citizens. However, I feel compelled to echo the faith or our forefathers who all believed in God and a respect of a higher authority.”
He adds, “Personally, denying the children of PS90 to sing ‘God Bless the USA’ offends me as a Christian. My song is about hope, faith, spirit and pride. How could that be wrong on any level?”
Walcott, on the other hand, questions the song’s content in relation to the current situation — a kindergarten graduation. “You have to really wonder about some of the lyrics in the song,” says the school district authority. “So I have to rely on the principal’s judgment along that line.”
Staffers at the school quoted Hawkins as saying, “We don’t want to offend other cultures.”
Still on the playlist for the big event, however, is the Justin Bieber smash hit ‘Baby’ — a breezy pop song which talks about losing teenage love.
“If the Department of Education has any brains they should remove her tomorrow,’’ one angry anonymous staffer said in a posting, referring to the principal. “We were the victims of 9/11. It hit New York really hard. That song became famous because of that tragedy. Removing that song is horrific. It’s opening the wound again.”
Hawkins has yet to issue any further statements following the now national coverage.