Smithsonian Institution to Feature U.S. National Anthem in Spanish

In time for Hispanic Heritage Month, a little-known translation of the U.S. national anthem has now officially become part of the Smithsonian Institution’s collection.

After World War II, Peruvian immigrant and musical composer Clotilde Arias was commissioned by the U.S. State Department to write a translation of the original “Star-Spangled Banner” in Spanish. It was then sent to U.S. embassies in Latin America. Arias also wrote jingles for various U.S. companies for Spanish marketing, including Ford Motor Company, Kraft Velveeta, and Alka-Seltzer.

Arias, who died in 1959 in New York City, was a lyricist and composer who moved to the U.S. seeking a better future.

While curators say there are a few records of this translation ever performed, the National Museum of American History in Washington will bring it to a live audience on Saturday by a full choir. On that same day, an exhibition, titled “Not Lost in Translation: The Life of Clotilde Arias,” will also open to celebrate her legacy.

“Through the lens of Ms. Arias’s own possessions-personal and professional documents, journals, objects, photographs-we can better understand important events in the past because they allow us to walk through an individual’s story and view the processes of change,” said the National Museum of American History’s site.

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The Smithsonian is also hosting events everyday for Hispanic Heritage Month in both Washington, D.C. and New York.

Currently, the Smithsonian’s collections feature 137 million artifacts, art, and specimens.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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