News Column


June 11, 2014

By Dawnthea Price, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.

June 12--Early on Sept. 14, 1814, lawyer Francis Scott Key first penned a song that began with, "O say can you see, by the dawn's early light." He had no way of knowing that it would become his country's anthem, but the amateur poet felt inspired by the appearance of an American flag over bombarded Fort McHenry.

To honor the 200th anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library will commemorate the anthem Saturday--with 125 kazoos.

Museum director Scott Harris said that the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is hosting Raise It Up! Anthem for America, a national group sing-along of the anthem.

As the nation's largest repository for documents regarding the President James Monroe, who operated as secretary of state, and briefly as secretary of war during the War of 1812, Harris said it only made sense for the museum and library to participate.

"Because of the relevance to our mission, we thought it would be appropriate," he said.

But how did the museum decide on kazoos?

"I take sole and happy credit for being the originator of the kazoo idea. My thought process was this: Getting people to sing would be great, so wouldn't it be great if we could add some musical instruments?" Harris said. "If you can hum, you can play a kazoo."

According to Harris, the Smithsonian loved the idea. The museum even received mention on the Raise It Up! website describing a select number of events.

The national celebration begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, which is also Flag Day--a choice the Smithsonian made, according to Harris. At that time, participants will raise their kazoos and perform "The Star-Spangled Banner." An ice cream social will follow.

There will be 125 kazoos available at the sing-along, but they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Harris said that the kazoos, which have the museum's logo on them, will also work to get the word out about the museum.

"And if we have more than 125 people, what we will do is take a list," Harris said, "and everyone who wants a kazoo will be sure to get one."

Dawnthea Price: 540/374-5403

What: Raise It Up! Anthem for America

When: Saturday, June 14, at 4 p.m. Arrive at 3:45 p.m.

Where: James Monroe Museum, 908 Charles St., Fredericksburg

Cost: Free

Info: Reservations are recommended; email or call 540/654-1123.


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Source: Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

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