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Bush: Sing 'Star-Spangled Banner' in English

Producer says song not meant to discourage learning English

President Bush said he wanted U.S. citizens to speak -- and sing -- English.


Should the U.S. national anthem be sung only in English?
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George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The national anthem should be sung in English -- not Spanish -- President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over the millions of immigrants here illegally.

"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."

A Spanish language version of the national anthem was released Friday by a British music producer, Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor America's immigrants. (Watch Kidron explain how the song is meant to unify, not divide -- 2:16)

When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

He made his remarks during a wide-ranging briefing with reporters.

"The intention of recording 'Nuestro Himno' (Our Anthem) has never been to discourage immigrants from learning English and embracing American culture," Kidron said in a statement issued after the president spoke.

"We instead view 'Nuestro Himno' as a song that affords those immigrants that have not yet learned the English language the opportunity to fully understand the character of the Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag and the ideals of freedom that they represent," Kidron said.

The president's comments came amid a burgeoning national debate -- and congressional fight -- over legislation pending in Congress, and pushed by Bush, to overhaul U.S. immigration law.

Bush called on lawmakers to move forward on legislation -- now stalled -- that would revamp immigration laws.

"I want a comprehensive bill," Bush said, that includes enforcement as well as giving temporary worker status to some illegal immigrants.

Large numbers of immigrant groups have planned an economic boycott next week to dramatize their call for legislation providing legal status for millions of people in the United States illegally.

"You know, I'm not a supporter of boycotts," Bush said. "I am a supporter of comprehensive immigration ... I think most Americans agree that we've got to enforce our border. I don't think there's any question about that."

The president's remarks followed the release of the Spanish language version of the song.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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