WASHINGTON – "The Star-Spangled Banner" (search) rang from the Capitol lawn Thursday, kicking off a campaign to reacquaint generations of Americans with the elusive lyrics of their national anthem.
Fearing "our country is losing its voice" because of years of budget cuts in schools, educators launched the National Anthem Project (search), aiming to restore the importance of Francis Scott Key's (search) patriotic words and support school music education.
"We want to remind all Americans to cherish our national treasures and to celebrate our unity and our values in song," John Mahlmann, executive director of the National Association for Music Education (search), told a crowd on the west lawn of the Capitol before a performance of the anthem led by The Oak Ridge Boys (search) and hundreds of school kids.
Schools across the country will be taking part in the project, special performances of the anthem will be held and public service announcements given.
Singers across the country were enlisted to give the campaign a rousing start, joining in singing the anthem Thursday in broadcasts by PBS and the Armed Forces Network (search).
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston, was among those attending the kickoff. "Music is one of the easy things to eliminate because of budget cuts, but it's important to give kids the avenue to express themselves. We need to get kids singing about our history again."