May 1, 2006

Sing anthem in English: Senator

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - English is the only language in
which the U.S. national anthem should be sung, a lawmaker
declared in a Senate resolution on Monday, jumping into a hot
debate over a new Spanish version of the song.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said singing
"The Star-Spangled Banner" in a foreign language could be
divisive in a nation of immigrants united by a common language.

"English is part of who we are as Americans. It's part of
what unites us," he said. "That's why we should always sing it
in our common language, English."

Alexander's support for an "English only" rendering of the
anthem came in a non-binding measure introduced as hundreds of
thousands of people rallied across the United States in support
of legal rights for millions of illegal immigrants.

"Our forefathers, who came from those many different
countries, spoke many different languages. But in coming here,
they agreed to speak one common language.... And that language
is English," Alexander said in a prepared text.

Alexander said fellow Tennessee Republican, Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist, had signed on as a supporter of the national
anthem resolution.

The release last week of "Nuestro Himno" or "Our Anthem" --
a Spanish version featuring several well-known Hispanic artists
-- has become the subject of heated debate in conservative

Asked about the issue last week, President Bush responded:
"I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English and I
think people who want to be citizens of this country ought to
learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national
anthem in English."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice weighed in on the
subject on Sunday, saying she had heard the anthem done in
musical genres ranging from rap to classical.

"From my point of view, people expressing themselves as
wanting to be Americans is a good thing," Rice said on the CBS
show "Face the Nation," adding that the focus needs to be on
immigration policy.