NEW YORK — A group of North Carolina middle-school students who were ordered to stop singing the “National Anthem” at the 9/11 Memorial have received an apology from officials there, days after video of the awkward incident at the sacred site went viral.
Fifty-one students from Waynesville Middle School chorus from Waynesville, N.C. were visiting New York City for a three day trip last Wednesday.
They stopped at the 9/11 Memorial and decided to sing the “National Anthem” to show pay respect for the dead.
They never got to finish.
Before the song was over, two memorial site guards walked over and told the students they had to stop singing.
“We thought they were there to listen, but then it all ended,” one student told PIX11’s Narmeen Choudhury in a interview on Monday.
“We just wanted to show respect to the people who lost their lives,” another student added.
The video, posted to Facebook, has been shared over 1,000 times with many people commenting that the students should have not been interrupted.
According to the 9/11 Memorial’s website, groups wanting to perform must first obtain a permit. The Waynesville students didn’t have one, but did get a verbal OK from a security guard that day, music teacher Martha Weathers Brown said.
Brown said the group gathered quietly and sang softly in what she describes as a “paying of respects through music.”
“It was a very moving moment, and it was unfortunate that it got cut off,” Brown said. “It was confusing to the students because they were singing from their hearts.”
A spokesperson for the 9/11 Memorial told PIX11 in a statement that the guard “did not respond appropriately.”
“We reached out to the school to express our regret for how this was handled and asked the principal to share that with the students,” said Kaylee Skaar, a spokeswoman for the 9/11 Memorial.
Brown added that she understands why they were told to stop and used it as a teaching moment about respecting authority, showing students that these rules are in place to protect a sacred space from those who might want to be disrespectful.
The students have been invited back to the Memorial.
The incident happened in the beginning of the trip, a school spokesperson said. Despite the incident, the students had a great time. While in New York, the students sang at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, attended “The Lion King” on Broadway.