NEW YORK – A New York City principal has pulled the plug on patriotism by preventing students from singing "God Bless the USA" at their graduation.
The decision has sparked fireworks at a school filled with proud immigrants.
Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, will not allow kindergarten students 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, dressed up for their big day, would wave tiny American flags -- which, as the lyrics proclaim, "still stand for freedom."
But Hawkins marched in on a recent rehearsal and ordered a CD playing the anthem to be shut off, staffers said. She told the teachers to drop the song from the program.
"We don't want to offend other cultures," they quoted her as explaining.