May 1, 2006 -- Several Republican senators are steamed at the notion of a new Spanish version of "The Star Spangled Banner."
Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander, Majority Leader Bill Frist, both from Tennessee, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Pat Roberts of Kansas submitted a nonbinding resolution on the Senate floor last week that said the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance "should be recited or sung in English."
The reason, they say, is that what binds Americans together is not race, ancestry or origin, but a common language -- English.
And they argue that immigrants wanting to become citizens must renounce allegiance to their former country and swear allegiance to the laws and Constitution of the United States, and they must make that oath in English.
"We wouldn't recite the pledge in French or German or Russian or Hindi or even Chinese," said Alexander. "And we shouldn't sing the national anthem in Spanish, or any other foreign language. So, in this land of immigrants, let's all sing it together, as one American nation, in our common language, English."
To read Lamar Alexander's full remarksclick here.
Spanish Version Been Here a While
On the other side of the debate, supporters of the "Nuestra Himna" version of the national anthem point out that, according to the Library of Congress, the United States Bureau of Education commissioned a Spanish-language version of "The Star Spangled Banner" en español way back in 1919. That was before the English version became the official anthem in 1931.
The bureau called the song "La Bandera de las estrellas." You can find mention of "La Bandera de las estrellas" online at the Library of Congress' Performing Arts Digital Library interactive Web site.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot of accompanying information about the circumstances under which the song was translated. Oddly, the translation of Francis Scott Key's lyrics is credited to another three-named Francis -- Francis Haffkine Snow.
To scroll through an interactive display of the government-commissioned Spanish-language version click here.
For the sheet music of the more familiar English-language version click here.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice broke with President Bush this weekend when she said she didn't have a problem with the Spanish-language version of "The Star Spangled Banner."
The U.S. State Department, on its "usinfo" Web site for non-English speakers or people from other countries has four separate Spanish versions of the national anthem.
And it links to another Library of Congress Web site that includes several German versions as well. Click here to see the German versions.
The logic behind foreign-language versions is that U.S. embassies could use the translations in ceremonies so guests could understand what was being sung.