Just in time for the Fourth of July, a tourist to Washington became an internet sensation with her rendition of the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” at the Lincoln Memorial.
Star Swain, a 34-year-old assistant principal from Tallahassee, Florida, visited the memorial recently with friends and relatives who encouraged her to sing the national anthem.
The video has gone viral, being viewed by more than 10 million Facebook users and on other social media.
“What started out as a dare turned into all of this,” Benny Bolden, a friend and elder at her church, told the Washington Post.
The Lincoln Memorial has been the setting for many famous speeches, songs and marches. One of the most historic was U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in August 1963, when an estimated 250,000 people marched on Washington to demand changes in U.S. civil rights laws.
And in 1939, more than 75,000 people came to the Lincoln Memorial to hear famed African-American contralto Marian Anderson give a free open-air concert. She sang there after she was denied the opportunity to perform at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s auditorium because of her race.
For Swain, her song at that historic venue was a life-changing experience. “People just started saying, ‘That was awesome, thank you,'” she told the Tallahassee Democrat. “One lady had tears in her eyes.” Since then she has appeared on several TV shows in the United States. On her Facebook page, Swain posted a song thanking everyone in the United States and around the world for their well wishes. “I am still trying to take this all in,” she wrote.