Let freedom sing at Ground Zero

A miniature flag is left behind inserted into an engraved name at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City, Monday, April 25, 2016. Officials at the Sept. 11 memorial said that one of their security guards shouldn't have stopped a North Carolina middle school choir from singing the national anthem on the memorial plaza. Officials say groups wishing to perform on the crowded plaza are supposed to pay $35 to apply for a permit and obey a list of rules, such as no amplified sound and no interfering with the flow of traffic. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Visitors to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan express themselves in a variety of ways at that searing spot in modern American history. And last week, roughly 50 members of a middle school choir from North Carolina gave uplifting voice in tribute to the victims of 9/11 by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the site’s plaza.

Then, incredibly, a security guard ordered them to halt their patriotic performance.

Yes, there are many more bizarre — and troubling — stories than that in this increasingly confusing era.

But for a sad commentary on our strange times, it’s hard to top American students being barred from singing the national anthem at the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

At least Kaylee Skaar, a spokeswoman for the museum, told The New York Times on Monday: “The guard did not respond appropriately. We are working with our security staff to ensure that this does not happen again with future student performances.”

So how has our warped society become so hypersensitive that any security guard at the 9/11 memorial would detect any problem with a student choir singing our national anthem there?

Yes, the museum has rules about such performances, including a prohibition on amplification of sound.

However, Martha Brown, a teacher who accompanied the roughly 50 students from Waynesville Middle School in western North Carolina, told the Times that one security guard initially granted permission for the kids to sing.

But according to Ms. Brown, a second guard said: “ ‘You just can’t do this. You’ve got to stop now.’ ”

She added: “So we very reverently and quietly stopped what we were doing and complied with his request and quietly exited the park.”

According to Ms. Brown: “We turned it into a teaching moment and taught them that even if you don’t agree with it, or understand it, you must respect authority.”

Yes, you must.

But respect for authority is not reinforced when it issues asinine edicts.

The good news: The choir, along with Ms. Brown and school principal Trevor Putnam, did sing the anthem live on Fox News on Monday.

And in this “home of the brave,” our national 9/11 memorial should welcome — not discourage — similar performances in that special place.