N.Y. school drops 'God Bless the USA' from kindergarten ceremony
Lee Greenwood's ultra-patriotic 1984 hit "God Bless the USA" is out while Justin Bieber's breakup-makeup plea “Baby” stays in for a June 20 kindergarten promotion ceremony in New York.
Greta Hawkins, principal of P.S. 90 in Brooklyn, vetoed "God Bless the USA" as "inappropriate for 5-year-olds" after hearing it rehearsed, according to the New York Post, and her decision has received the backing of city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
A city Department of Education spokeswoman told the Post that the objection came over the opening verse of Greenwood's song, which was named song of the year in 1984 by the Country Music Assn: "If tomorrow all the things were gone/I'd worked for all my life/And I had to start again/with just my children and my wife."
"You have to really wonder about some of the lyrics in the song, so I have to rely on the principal's judgment along that line," Walcott told the Post. "It's her judgment to make that decision. It's important to reinforce that they start out the morning every day of the school with the Pledge of Allegiance and ‘America the Beautiful,’ and that, to me, is what this country is about, and they celebrate that, and that's how we should start our day."
L.A. native Greenwood recorded a new version that made the country Top 20 in 2001 following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
Plans were still in place for the kindergartners to sing "Baby," the pop hit in which Bieber cajoles a girlfriend not to break up with him, saying, "I wanna play it cool, but I’m losing you/I’ll buy you anything, I’ll buy you any ring."
Update: An earlier edition of this post rendered the title of Greenwood's song as "God Bless the U.S.A." It should be "God Bless the USA."
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Lee Greenwood at a 2010 ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley marking what would have been former President Reagan's 100th birthday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times