In a jaw-dropping move, security guards at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City ordered a school choir to stop singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
One guard told the startled group of middle school kids from North Carolina that in order to sing the national anthem of the United States they would need to obtain a permit.
"Basically they performed approximately half of the national anthem, and they were told by security to cease and desist. And they, of course, complied immediately," Waynesville Middle School principal Trevor Putnam told WLOS-TV
of Asheville, N.C.
"I hate that our kids didn't get to finish. They have angelic voices and I love to hear them sing."
The group, who was in New York as part of a two-day educational trip, said they had earlier received a verbal OK from one guard that it was fine to sing a patriotic song.
But the effort was squashed anyway. Another guard told them the strict rule was enforced because the area was treated as a burial site.
of the student choir being rebuked has been posted on social media where it's gone viral.
The incident has sparked a furor.
"So sad this is happening everywhere. They sounded great. God Bless America!" one mother, Connie Scanlon, wrote on Twitter.
The school's music teacher Martha Brown told The New York Post:
"Singing was their way of paying respect. They were doing it very reverently. [The guard] could have waited 30 to 45 seconds for us to finish, or he could have stopped us before we started."
Commenters on Facebook were also on the warpath, according to ABC11.com
"I think it's terrible, being a veteran of such," said one poster Bill Bright. Another, Marian Anderson, said, "That's just not right, not a good way to promote patriotism."
A memorial spokeswoman admitted that the incident had been mishandled.
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