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Sing US anthem in English, senator says

Written by: Staff

Washington, May 2 : English is the only language in which the US national anthem should be sung, a US lawmaker declared in a Senate resolution, 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 yesterday. ''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 media.

Asked about the issue last week, US President George W 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.'' US 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.


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