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Oh Say Can You Sing

Capital Beat blog: A call for the national anthem at the New York Stock Exchange.

As Wall Streeters head out to beaches and barbecues this July 4th weekend, it seems only appropriate to let singer Steve Amerson have his say: the Star Spangled Banners should be played every day before the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange — just like it is at baseball games and the Super Bowl — to remind traders and the like of the value in balancing greed and country. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to say the Pledge of Allegiance either, argues Amerson, who boldly dubs himself America’s Tenor.

The Los Angeles-based singer has performed the anthem at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere). For the past four years, he has sang it at the Circle of Honor annual award dinner co-hosted by the NYSE and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The event traditionally includes cocktails on the exchange’s trading floor after market close and a formal dinner on the seventh floor of the exchange.

“Free markets are what make America great,” says Amerson, a proud Indiana native. “Our recent problems (Madoff, Stanford and beyond) happened because there is a blurring of right and wrong, so free markets have to be partnered with strong ethics.”

One way to nurte that sense of right is to sing the Star Spangled Banners more often (no matter that it’s a notoriously difficult piece to perform. Amerson recalls sitting with a bunch of Smith Barney executives at one of the Circle of Honor dinners and asking them to take more seriously their responsibilities to small investors — he being one of them. “I need you to do well so that I can have a retirement,” Amerson recalls telling the execs.

His 401(k) — like lots of people’s — is down by close to a third since last year, but he refuses to jump on the bandwagon of Wall Street bashers, believing that the blame should be shared.

And so, adds Amerson, should the national anthem, which is what he’ll be doing this Independence Day.

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