On Friday evening, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy posted on social media calling the interruption of the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” “unacceptable.” McCarthy said the choir was welcomed by his office, and he looks forward to a return performance by the Greenville, South Carolina-based youth vocalists. McCarthy wrote:
Just learned kids were interrupted while singing our National Anthem at the Capitol. Unacceptable. These children were welcomed by my office because your Capitol is back open, particularly for school groups. @RepTimmons, @RepJoeWilson & @RepRussellFry, and I look forward to having them back to perform in the halls of Congress.
Just learned kids were interrupted while singing our National Anthem at the Capitol. Unacceptable.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) June 2, 2023
As I previously reported, on Friday, video footage circulated of the Christian children’s choir singing the national anthem inside Statuary Hall in the Capitol building. The video shows the conductor, David Rasbach, abruptly stopping the performance before the young singers could finish the patriotic tune. Rasbach said:
I was shocked, I was dismayed, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that was happening, that they would stop the National Anthem of all songs.
The date of the incident has been clarified to have occurred on May 26. Rasbach revealed that despite having obtained permission from South Carolina Republican Representatives William Timmons, Joe Wilson, and the Speaker’s office, a congressional staffer halted the performance.
According to Capitol Police, singing is typically not permitted in the building, and officers were unaware of McCarthy’s approval for the performance. Capitol Police issued an apology, citing a “miscommunication” that led to the interruption of the choir’s rendition of the national anthem and their visit to the historic site.
The United States Capitol Police wrote:
Although popup demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol without the proper approval, due to a miscommunication, the U.S. Capitol Police were not aware that the Speaker’s Office had approved this performance. We apologize to the choir for this miscommunication that impacted their beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner and their visit to Capitol Hill.
Rasbach stated that a female Capitol Police officer had instructed the staffer to interrupt the children’s singing, that the female officer insisted the singing was a “demonstration” and later alleged that “some people were offended” by the performance. On Friday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia tweeted her support for the choir, asserting that the national anthem sung by children “is not offensive, it’s needed more.” Capitol Police denied the allegations Greene and Rasbach levied, stating that they never suggested the performance might offend someone.
In an updated tweet, the Congresswoman wrote:
This afternoon, the Choir Director for Rushingbrook Children’s Choir called my office to confirm the story that kids were told they could not to sing the National Anthem in their Capitol building by Capitol Police. I’m thankful for Capitol Police because most of them agree with kids singing the National Anthem.
This afternoon, the Choir Director for Rushingbrook Children’s Choir called my office to confirm the story that kids were told they could not to sing the National Anthem in their Capitol building by Capitol Police.
I’m thankful for Capitol Police because most of them agree with…
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) June 2, 2023
Republican condemnation of the silencing of patriotic children, and McCarthy’s enthusiasm for the choir’s return, reflect the desire to honor and celebrate symbols of unity and pride in our nation, particularly when showcased by young and talented voices.