North Carolina middle school students told to stop singing at 9/11 Memorial

WAYNESVILLE, North Carolina (WABC) -- A North Carolina community was outraged after a children's chorus was ordered to stop singing the National Anthem at the September 11 Memorial and Museum, and now, museum officials are changing their tune.

The incident happened while the Waynesville Middle School chorus was visiting New York City as part of an educational trip. Most of them had never been to the Big Apple, and none of them were born in 2001.

They were singing outside of the Memorial when they were asked to stop midway through the performance. According to the 9/11 Memorial's website, groups wanting to perform first must get a permit. The Waynesville students didn't have a permit, but they did get a verbal okay from a security guard.

"Basically, they performed approximately half of the National Anthem, and they were told by security to cease and desist," Waynesville Middle School principal Trevor Putnam said. "And they, of course, complied immediately."

He added that security "explained to them that they treat that (area) as a burial site."

Someone on the trip posted the video of the performance on Facebook, and others immediately started commenting and sharing. Many say the students shouldn't have been interrupted.

"I think it's terrible, being a veteran of such," North Carolina resident Bill Bright said.

Others agreed.

"That's just not right, not a good way to promote patriotism," Marian Anderson said.

Putnam called it an unfortunate situation.

"I hate that our kids didn't get to finish," he said.

However, he said he's proud of the students making their mark in New York, just as they do in the mountains.

"If I'm having a bad day at school, I will go by there and listen to them sing," he said. "They have angelic voices, and I love to hear them sing."

A spokesperson for the 9/11 memorial confirmed that the guards did not act appropriately and that the memorial welcomes performances just like this one. There is no word on whether the guards were disciplined.

Putnam said the head of the memorial called him personally to apologize and invite the students back for another visit.
Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.