(NEW YORK) — A principal in New York City has caused a stir after canceling a performance of Lee Greenwood’s patriotic song “God Bless the U.S.A.” at a kindergarten graduation.
According to the New York Post, the PS 90 principal, Greta Hawkins, thought the opening lines “If tomorrow all the things were gone/I’d worked for all my life/And I had to start again/with just my children and my wife” were a little too dark for 5-year-olds to sing.
She also reportedly said they didn’t want to offend people of other cultures at the ceremony. New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is standing by the principal’s decision, and now Lee Greenwood himself is stepping in.
He released a statement Monday saying he wrote “God Bless the U.S.A.” about the love he has for America and struggle to remain free.
Greenwood continues, “Our country was founded on the principle that it welcomes people of all cultures and gives them the same rights we have as citizens. However, I feel compelled to echo the faith or our forefathers who all believed in God and a respect of a higher authority.”
He goes on to say that denying the children at PS 90 the right to sing “God Bless the U.S.A.” offends him as a Christian.
“My song is about hope, faith, spirit and pride,” Greenwood explains. “How could that be wrong on any level?”
Reportedly, the principal was going to let the kids sing the Justin Bieber hit “Baby” instead, but the New York Post says that plan has been dropped after it was criticized.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Azadeh Ansari and Steve Almasy, CNN
Lauren Jackson, CNN
Forrest Sanders, CNN
Andreas Preuss, CNN