WAYNESVILLE, N.C. — The Waynesville Middle School student chorus had their plans altered a bit during last week’s trip to the Big Apple when a security guard asked the group to stop performing in the middle of their rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.
According to Trevor Putnam, the school’s principal, the group, who was touring the city and had plans to sing at several of NYC’s culturally relevant hotspots, had received permission from one security guard to perform the national anthem.
“Our choral director was told by a colleague that if you asked a security guard they may let you sing,” Putnam said. “So, sure enough, that’s what she did. At that point in time we thought we were following the appropriate protocol. As it turns out, that is not the appropriate protocol.”
The group had made it about halfway through the anthem before a second security guard interrupted the performance and asked them to stop. The director was simply not aware the group would need a permit to perform at the location, which is considered a burial site. Groups wishing to perform there must pay $35 for a permit.
Putnam says he is very proud of his students for respecting authority and for being respectful of the site, saying they immediately complied and left the memorial “real reverent and real respectfully.”
The group had obtained permits to perform at all of the other NYC locations it planned on singing at, including the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as well as a trip to a Disney workshop of the Lion King.
One purpose of the students’ trip to the 9/11 memorial were to wrap up lessons and discussions the students had been having to learn about the cultural relevance of the happenings there.
“I think it’s like many other historic events,” Putnam said. “That was a day and an event that shaped our country and changed its permanently. We always, as we learn songs such as the national anthem and others, we discuss the rich history of the United States. And that is certainly an event that is worthy of discussing and making sure our kids understand the events of that day. The heroes of the events that followed. That is definitely a part of what we want our kids to know.”