California High's Associated Student Body has decided not to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" at rallies for the remainder of the year after learning of the song's seldom-heard third verse.
ASB President Ariyana Kermanizadeh wrote about the San Ramon-area high school's controversial choice to opt out of singing the anthem in the campus paper on February 9.
“We had nothing but good intentions by removing the song so that we could be fully inclusive to our student body,” Kermanizadeh said in the article. “More specifically, the third verse of our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, states:
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and home of the brave.”
“We understand that this third verse is not included when the anthem is performed, but still, what does this tell us?” she said. "This verse translated, finds joy in the killing of African-Americans. To think that our nation’s anthem once had the word slave and 'land of the free' in the same sentence leaves me speechless."
Although the decision has been met with a lot of support, some students are upset about the change.
“I respect their [the ASB's] decision to make the change and I understand why they did it, but I feel that the anthem doesn’t stand for that. I feel that California High School honoring and respecting those who have died protecting our freedom is more important,” senior Dennis Fiorentinos told the school's paper.