‘Our flag was still there’: Bethany joins national celebration for national anthem bicentennial

Americans will proudly raise their voices and the flag for a nationwide sing-along on Saturday, June 14, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Bethany Beach Bandstand will be a patriotic hub as a mass of musicians lead beach-goers in singing the national anthem at 4 p.m.

“I’m excited to be a part of it, too. Bethany’s such a patriotic town. I think it’s a perfect fit,” said Julie Malewski, Bethany’s events director, adding that she hopes the public chorus will leave an impact on passersby.

“It’s obviously a one-time event,”?Malewski said. “It would be a neat thing for Bethany to partake in because of the historical significance.”

Bethany was invited by the Smithsonian Institution to host an official event at 4 p.m., coinciding with the Washington, D.C., event.

Musicians will represent bands including Fish Whistle, the Fabulous Dialtones, The Threetles and more.

“The reaction has been wonderful. I contacted them from the Summer Concert Series,” she said of the performing musicians.

Although she just learned about the event a week or so ago, Malewski said it is picking up traction, support and more musicians.

But everybody is invited to attend.

“You don’t have to have singing talent. You just have to have patriotic spirit,” she said. “We’ll accommodate everybody.”

According to the Raise It Up! website, this is the only public celebration of the bicentennial being held in Delaware or on the Delmarva Peninsula.

A variety of groups are sponsoring events in 75 other places, from libraries and museums to businesses and entire towns.

The Washington, D.C., singing party will feature a 500-person choir, the United States Air Force Band, three guest conductors and several guest artists, including Brian McKnight.

People are also being encouraged to sing the national anthem wherever they are.

Francis Scott Key composed the original poem containing the lyrics to the song in September of 1814 (during the War of 1812). People were stunned that the British had burned Washington, D.C., and had now set their sights on Baltimore, Md.

But Key was heartened when he saw the U.S. flag’s “broad stripes and bright stars,” still flying after the bombardment of Fort McHenry. That flag is still a treasured American artifact, held in the Smithsonian’s National History Museum in Washington, D.C.

People attending the June 14 event can arrive at Bethany Bandstand at 3:30 p.m., leading up to the 4 p.m. song. Parking enforcement will be suspended in Bethany from 3 to 5 p.m. that afternoon.

For more information on the celebration, visit www.anthemforamerica