BELLINGHAM (CBS) – A presentation at an elementary school in Bellingham will go on next week following a controversy in which the words of a patriotic song were changed.
Students at Stall Brook Elementary are doing a project on the 50 states and they planned to sing two songs at an assembly April 12. One was to be a tune about the states, and the other was the popular 1984 Lee Greenwood song “God Bless The USA.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports
But someone changed the chorus of Greenwood’s song to “We love the USA” for the assembly.
That didn’t go over well with parents, who complained.
So, school officials decided there would be no singing at the assembly.
Lee Greenwood himself heard about the controversy and issued this statement:
“Maybe the school should have asked the parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course would have said you can’t change the lyrics at all or any part of the song. The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, which is also in the title God Bless The USA. We can’t take God out of the song, we can’t take God out of The Pledge of Allegiance, we can’t take God off of the American currency. Let us also remember, the phrase God Bless the USA has a very important meaning for those in the military and their families, as well as new citizens coming to our Country. The song is played at every naturalization ceremony behind The National Anthem. If the song is good enough to played and performed in its original setting under those circumstances, it surely should be good enough for our children.”
Then on Thursday, Superintendent Edward Fleury issued a statement on the school website announcing yet another change.
The songs are back in and and they will sing Greenwood’s song the way it was written.
“Students will be allowed to sing or not sing the words “God Bless the USA” as they sing in celebration of their acquired knowledge. No other words will be substituted. We believe the use of the word God is acceptable in patriotic songs. The district has no intent to censor any patriotic songs. We are certainly sorry if this approach was perhaps considered as disrespectful. That was never the intent,” Fleury wrote in the letter to parents.
“It’s unfortunate that a small mis-understanding has snowballed to this level,” Bellingham School Committee member Cheryl Gray told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Thursday.
“The Pledge of Allegiance is said daily in our classrooms, so, personally, I see no reason to have changed the lyrics of the song.”
Gray said she does not know why the lyrics were changed in the first place.