MANDAN, N.D. — A North Dakota student may not sing in competitions or even her school choir, but she's known to publicly sing one song since she was 5 years old: "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Kennedy Harris sings the national anthem as a tribute to her country and her late grandfather, who died when she was 8 years old.
The Mandan High School junior told the Bismarck Tribune her grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran, first asked Harris to sing for a crowd other than her family at one of his baseball games. Shortly after the game, then-5-year-old Harris performed at a Memorial Day program in Makoti, where she has sung for the community's veterans and soldiers every year since.
"I lost my grandpa when I was 8, so I think it's just something that I do for him," said Harris. "It means a lot to my family and it's something that means a lot to me because it's not just a song, it honors our country."
Harris said she's sung the national anthem in public nearly 50 times, including at Mandan's athletic events since she was in eighth grade.
"I have different people, all the time, saying how much it means to them," she said. "One of the big reasons I keep singing is because of all the people who acknowledge me and tell me how good it is, and how much it means to people around our community."
Harris shared the microphone with her 11-year-old sister, Harper, at a recent rival school's sporting event between Bismarck and Minot high schools.
"Harper likes to sing with me sometimes. I think we're going to start doing that a little more so she can start taking my place at Memorial Day," Harris said. "I know she's always wanted to be like me and come sing at the games, so I think that'd be cool."