Janine Stange can trace her patriotic roots to working alongside her mother, Patty, in the family’s old bagel shop on Connetquot Avenue in Islip Terrace: Bagels on the Terrace.
“I saw how she treated our military and our first responders,” she recalled. “Everyone who came into that shop in uniform, she made them feel like a million bucks.”
“She didn’t tell me do something patriotic,” Stange added, “she showed me by example.”
Years later Janine Stange would become known for being the first person to ever sing the National Anthem in all 50 states of the U.S. It was a whirlwind two years for Stange, but a profound learning experience that she’s now sharing in schools (and companies) across the country.
During her journey from late 2012 t0 2014, Stange was featured multiple times on Fox News, as well as the The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and News 12 Long Island.
Here’s how it all came about:
The life-long singer had followed her musical career from New York to Los Angeles about eight years ago, during which time she began thinking about how she wanted to “give back.”
Once she “made it” in music, of course.
“And then it hit me,” she said. “Why do I have to make it to give back? Why don’t I just start giving back right now? And then I began to cling to this cause.”
“I would sing the anthem a lot,” she explained. “I would look out at 30,000 people and I would see kids not knowing to keep their hands on their heart, or people would be talking and not respecting the anthem. And if we don’t have that down, we have a big problem.”
She wanted to help restore respect, and educate people about the song’s importance, and the importance of caring for your country.
At that point in her life, she had already sang the anthem in about seven or eight states, so she decided to go for all 50, even if that meant burning through her savings (which it did).
Stange was traveling at her own pace before realizing early on in 2014 that it was the bicentennial of Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner.
Suddenly she was motivated to accomplish her feat that same year to commemorate the anthem — and so she began raising money to help continue in her travels across the country.
Her 50th anthem was sung at the start of a Tennessee Titans NFL game on Aug. 28, 2014. It was about 30 seconds in when it started to downpour — perhaps fittingly.
She pushed through her last song with a smile.
“You’re a trooper!” linebacker Shaun Phillips yelled out as she walked off the field soaked. (Video below.)
She’s since been working on her My American Promise effort.
Her first promise, of course, was the goal of singing the National Anthem in every state.
She now challenges young people, or even corporate employees that she speaks to, to MAP (Make A Promise) out their own goals, providing her own advice and insights from her trek.
During her travels, Stange, who graduated in 1999 from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue— where she sang the anthem at countless games before later performing at larger venues — can recall meeting a 92-year-old World War II vet had stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
“This is your land,” he told her. “Love it. Live in it. And protect it.”
Those words never left her.
“It’s a diverse country but we all live in the same house, really, and America is our land,” she explained. “We don’t have to like everything, but loving something means you’re there, no matter what.”
That’s something she’s now trying to still in others.
Caption: Janine Stange, originally of Islip Terrace, takes selfies with sailors before singing the National Anthem at an Orioles game in Baltimore last month. (courtesy photo)