Holmdel’s new schools superintendent added his voice to the discourse around the National Anthem on the evening of Friday, September 16 in an unusual manner. Superintendent Robert McGarry, a musician and former music educator, led the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner before the Holmdel-Spotswood football game at the district’s Roggy Field.
Responding to an invitation from head football coach Jeff Rainess to sing the anthem that week, Dr. McGarry reflected on the timeliness of the invitation, as September 14 is recognized as National Anthem Day, commemorating the day in 1814 that Francis Scott Key authored the lyrics.
Citing the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Social Studies, Dr. McGarry believes that the national anthem is an “historical symbol” and that the ideas around patriotism and the events it represents play a role in “understanding and evaluating our history.”
According to the New Jersey Department of Education, “Social studies education provides learners with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives needed to become active, informed citizens and contributing members of local, state, national, and global communities in the digital age.”
Dr. McGarry said, “Current events have always played a significant role in the social studies classroom, and the current events around the anthem have provided educators with an excellent opportunity to engage students in thinking about the essential question of the study of civics, government, and human rights.” That question, according to the state standards, is “How have economic, political, and cultural decisions promoted or prevented the growth of personal freedom, individual responsibility, equality, and respect for human dignity?”