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Rio Norte To Salute Vets, Sing National Anthem

Veterans encouraged to join students at national observance of anthem.

Quick, what's the third line to the national anthem? ***

national survey found out that the majority of people aren't sure of the words,
and even more tragically, elementary school children didn't know which song was
the official national anthem.

"We get ‘God Bless America,'
but my favorite is Lee Greenwood's ‘God Bless the USA,'"
said Jeffrey Gilbert, band director at Rio Norte Junior High. "I never knew
that was the national anthem. It's good enough to be, but it's not.

"When we were kids, we all sang in school," he continued. "Not
only did the teacher have a recorder, and we had a little gong or triangle to
bang along, but we learned all the patriotic songs like ‘This Land Is Your Land,'
‘God Bless America,' ‘America the Beautiful' and of course, ‘The Star-Spangled
Banner.' Today, kids don't get that."

With cutbacks in school funding, music programs are often
one of the first things to go, much to Gilbert's dismay – as well as the Music
Educators National Conference, to which he belongs.

That group has launched the National Anthem Project:
Restoring America's Voice" and Rio Norte is one of thousands of schools across
America that is doing something to jog the country's memory, along with providing
a history lesson about the events that brought about the stirring song.

"We are who we are because of events like the bombing of Ft.
McHenry in 1814 when Francis Scott
Key, aboard a British ship in the morning saw the star spangled banner still
flying through the haze and penned our national anthem," Gilbert said.

At 9 a.m., Friday,
Sept. 12, the Rio Norte band will strike up the anthem, which will be sung by
students as part of the national event. Gilbert is hoping that the children will
be joined by veterans and persons in uniform.

"Singing is the first art," Gilbert said. "Nowadays, a lot
of kids don't know how to sing; they're shy or scared of doing it. This is
something to get everyone back to music."

Gilbert's open invitation to the veterans will serve as
another lesson for the students.

"Who stands more for what our flag represents than our
veterans and those in uniform? They put their lives on the line every day to
preserve our safety and freedom."

Rio Norte Junior High is located at 28771
Rio Norte Drive in Valencia.
The school phone is (661) 295-3700. For information on the National Anthem
project, visit

*** It's "what so proudly we hailed…"

Rio Norte To Salute Vets, Sing National Anthem

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