News & Politics

Florida Woman Belts Out National Anthem at Lincoln Memorial, Thrills Everyone

Screenshot via YouTube.

As July 4 approaches, there’s a lot of false patriotism flying out there. But no one can question the enthusiasm of Genleah Star Swain, an assistant middle-school principal in Tallahassee, Florida, and recent visitor to the Lincoln Memorial. During a June 16 trip to Washington, Swain, who was traveling with family and a church group, stopped at the memorial, planning to sing “The Star Spangled-Banner.” Swain almost backed out of the performance, but after some prodding, started belting out the national anthem and catching the attention of everyone there. By the time Swain reached the song’s climax, everyone else inside the Lincoln Memorial appeared to be caught up in her performance, which earned huge applause from other tourists and US Park Police officers alike.

Since Swain’s visit, video of her singing has been viewed nearly 190,000 times on YouTube and earned her a social-media following. “I am so wonderfully overwhelmed by the love and support shown by millions of people all over the nation and world,’ she writes on her Facebook page. She told the Tallahassee Democrat that she hopes “it will open up floodgates so we can do great things, for myself and others.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.