Keeping Anthems in English

Why the Pledge of Allegiance and Star Spangled Banner Should Be Recited and Sung in English Alone

The Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner are public expressions of the loyalty, political values and love of country that unite Americans regardless of their differences. They have been recited or sung in our national language – English – since they were created. To recite or sing them in other languages directly undermines the spirit of national unity they are intended to foster.

Americans and people everywhere understand the symbolic importance of reciting the Pledge and singing the Star Spangled Banner in English. As Paul Reyes, mayor of El Cenizo, Texas – the only U.S. city to have adopted Spanish as its official language – said about the Star Spangled Banner, “I wouldn’t go getting Mexico’s flag and coloring it red, white, and blue.”[1]

Yet, today students in states from Arizona to Wisconsin are being asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish and other languages in the name of “diversity.” And the Star Spangled Banner has been composed in Spanish and broadcast in Spanish over the airwaves.[2]

Public policy should discourage such attempts at linguistic balkanization. As the late Barbara Jordan chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, noted,   “Cultural and religious diversity does not pose a threat to the national interest as long as public policies insure civic unity.”

The American people overwhelming agree that public policy, and the taxes citizens pay, should be used to promote civic unity – not civic disunity, whether that means linguistic or any other kind. There are many areas in which the mindless promotion of “diversity” is harmful to our nation’s wellbeing – and language is one of them. For example, a 2006 Gallup poll found that 7 out of 10 Americans (69 percent) agree that it is only appropriate to sing the National Anthem in English.[3] A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll the same year found that support was higher among likely voters, 8 out of 10 (78 percent).[4]

Public policy should discourage the linguistic separation and national division implicit in reciting the National Pledge of Allegiance or singing the Star Spangled Banner in any language other than English.


1. Kilgore News Herald, “Spanish-only town says English-only anthem” Associated Press. May 21, 2006.

2. The Spanish version “Nuestro Himno,” is not a direct translation. One of the lyrics was changed to read “They can’t help where they were born,” and put to a salsa beat.

3. Gallup poll, April 28-30, 2006 on 1,011 adults, margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

4. Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, May 2-3, 2006 on 900 registered voters, margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.