Did you know that in 1945, musician and composer Clotilde Arias was commissioned by the U.S. State Department under President Roosevelt to create an original translation of the national anthem into Spanish? It was part of FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy with Latin America with the intention that the anthem could be sung, shared abroad and widely circulated. But even with FDR’s intended broad reach, this official version has been all but forgotten. Until today.
“Franklin Roosevelt once said that one of the great regrets of his life was that he could not converse in Spanish,” said David B. Woolner, Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and author of The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace. “Had he lived but a few more years, there is little doubt that this beautiful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner would have inspired him to recommit himself to learn Español to speak with the American Hispanic community in their first language.”
In the newly-released, contemporary music video, the official Spanish version is performed by Jeidimar Rijos, the 2019 winner of La Voz, the Spanish-language version of the hit series “The Voice,” and features footage of Hispanics serving on the front lines of the war on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Spanish version of the U.S. national anthem is a treasure as it represents U.S. Hispanics, who are both 100% Hispanic and 100% American,” said Claudia Romo Edelman, founder and CEO of the We Are All Human Foundation. “It is especially relevant now because US Hispanics are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and also disproportionately exposed since we are not only truck drivers, medical workers and food producers, but also a significant portion of the service workers who have been laid off from hotels, restaurants and small businesses.”
“The We Are All Human Foundation deserves credit for reminding us— as FDR did —of the important role that Hispanics across the nation are playing in helping us meet this crisis,” notes Woolner.