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From left, Aaron Garduna, Savannah Panton, Marc Garduno and Sydney Caldwell raise the American flag at Seoul American Elementary School to kick off a Wednesday morning celebration in honor of the anniversary of the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
From left, Aaron Garduna, Savannah Panton, Marc Garduno and Sydney Caldwell raise the American flag at Seoul American Elementary School to kick off a Wednesday morning celebration in honor of the anniversary of the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (T.D. Flack / S&S)
From left, Aaron Garduna, Savannah Panton, Marc Garduno and Sydney Caldwell raise the American flag at Seoul American Elementary School to kick off a Wednesday morning celebration in honor of the anniversary of the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
From left, Aaron Garduna, Savannah Panton, Marc Garduno and Sydney Caldwell raise the American flag at Seoul American Elementary School to kick off a Wednesday morning celebration in honor of the anniversary of the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (T.D. Flack / S&S)
Students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the ceremony at Seoul American Elementary School.
Students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the ceremony at Seoul American Elementary School. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Seoul American Elementary School fifth-graders Taylor Donahue and Jay Edmonds stood in the early morning sun Wednesday, practicing the joint speech they were to give to 1,100 of their fellow students.

Teacher Kelli Humphreys had assigned them to speak about “The Star-Spangled Banner” in connection with the National Association for Music Education’s national anthem project.

When asked, Taylor said she wasn’t nervous, thanks to a full day of preparation.

As part of the assignment, Taylor and Jay had to decide what the anthem meant to them personally. They told the audience that it meant “American freedom.”

Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words after a Sept. 13, 1812, battle in which the British attacked Fort McHenry throughout the night, according to the speech. His poem was set to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven” by John Stafford Smith and was made the national anthem in 1931.

Wednesday’s ceremony began with a flag-raising ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Boy and Girl Scouts.

Principal Don Christensen then cued the national anthem on a public address system and the students, many holding their hands over their hearts, sang the words.

The singing “was my favorite part,” said 6-year-old Evin Peckham, even if she didn’t know all of the words.

Christensen thanked the volunteers and told the students he “hoped you learned a little bit.”

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